Lalu appears before CBI court in Patna in fodder scam case, to attend RJD event on Wednesday
The former Bihar chief minister, who is over 70 years of age and suffers from many debilitating ailments, appeared before special CBI judge Prajesh Kumar a week after being ordered to be physically present in course of hearing on Banka treasury case.
His counsel Sudhir Kumar Sinha said, “The court has fixed November 30 as the next date of hearing in the case when witnesses, said to be over 200 in number, would be examined. Lalu ji has not been asked to appear on that date. He is willing to appear whenever asked.” The fodder scam pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of nearly Rs 1000 crore, in the 1980s and 1990s from several treasuries in undivided Bihar. The CBI has lodged separate cases with regard to irregularities in different districts.
Prasad, who had been the CM from 1990 to 1997, was first convicted in the case relating to Chaibasa, now in Jharkhand, about a decade ago which also rendered the powerful mass leader disqualified from contesting elections.
Journalists eager for a sound-bite from the colourful politician were in for a disappointment as Prasad, looking haggard in a sleeveless jacket over his white kurta-pyjama and a mask wrapped around his face, refused to utter a word and drove out of the court premises.
However, he showed his penchant for springing a surprise when he turned towards a kindergarten school run by a convent in the vicinity where a large number of people had gathered to catch a glimpse of the charismatic leader whose ability to mingle with crowds has been a stuff of legend. Prasad, thereafter, retired to the residence allotted to his wife Rabri Devi who had succeeded him as the Chief Minister.
His outbursts against the botched up prohibition in the state on the previous day drew some flak from the ruling NDA which sought to know whether the RJD supremo was promoting consumption of intoxicants.
Prasad let one of his close lieutenants Jagadanand Singh, who heads the party’s state unit, do the talking.
The RJD boss had on Monday claimed that when the decision was made to impose prohibition in the state around six years ago, he had warned Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that he would lose revenue as Bihar shares its borders with Nepal and states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jharkhand where liquor would be available. The RJD was part of the ruling coalition then.
“Prasad’s message was clear. The farcical prohibition has led to a parallel economy which is filling up the coffers of the ruling party and liquor smugglers patronised by it. Our leader was right in saying that it would be better if the government gave up the hypocritical prohibition and let excise revenue, thus realised, go to the treasury,” Singh said.
He alleged that Kumar took the decision to impose prohibition in 2015 “after nearly a decade of allowing mushrooming of liquor shops in every nook and cranny”.
Singh also disclosed that RJD supporters will find Prasad among themselves after a long time on Wednesday when he will lit up a gigantic “hurricane lamp”, made of stone and modelled after the party’s election symbol.
“The hurricane lamp at our party office will keep burning round the clock, symbolising the RJD’s unflinching commitment to its principles, notwithstanding the storm of communalism,” Singh said in an oblique reference to the rise of BJP.
The function will be a part of the RJD’s ongoing silver jubilee celebrations. Almost simultaneously, the JD(U) office situated right across the road will be abuzz with activity. The party is scheduled to celebrate “pandrah saal, Nitish Bemisaal”, a programme on the completiton of 15 years of Chief Minister Kumar in office.
Kumar, the arch rival of Prasad, had assumed power on November 24 in 2005, ousting the RJD from power.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)