An extremely upset Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Ramkripal Yadav on Thursday alleged Lalu Prasad Yadav’s sentencing in a fodder scam case is a conspiracy hatched by political opponents, and added that his party chief is innocent. “Laluji is innocent, he is a victim of political conspiracy. The BJP and Nitish (Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar) are behind this,” said Yadav.
“We will go to the court of the people and tell them that a person who speaks about the poor and backward has been jailed,” he added. Special CBI court in Ranchi had this afternoon sentenced Yadav to five years in prison in connection with the case. The court also slapped a fine of Rs. 25 lakh on Yadav.
The verdict also disqualifies him from his Lok Sabha membership and bars him from contesting elections for six years, according to a recent Supreme Court order. Former Bihar Chief Minister Dr. Jagannath Mishra and sitting JD (U) MP Jagdish Sharma were sentenced to four years in prison each in the case.
Special CBI Judge Pravas Kumar Singh pronounced the quantum of punishment through video conferencing. Yadav’s lawyers earlier argued that he was too old and suffered from many diseases, to counter the CBI's plea for maximum punishment of seven years in jail for the RJD supremo in the fodder scam case. Lalu and other convicts are currently lodged in the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi.
In all, 45 fodder accused had been convicted in the case and the judge had delivered the sentence against eight of them on September 30 itself. The fodder scam also known as "Chara Ghotala" involved the siphoning of funds from the Bihar Government treasury. The alleged theft spanned over several years, and many Bihar state government administrative and elected officials across multiple administrations were allegedly engaged in it.
The fodder scam was unearthed in Bihar in 1996 when Lalu Prasad was the Chief Minister of the state. He had resigned from the post in 1997 after a court issued an arrest warrant against him in connection with one of the cases.