Indian leader Lalu Prasad gets 3.5 years in second fodder scam case

One of India’s most charismatic politicians, backward class leader and former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) party was on Saturday jailed for three-and-a-half years in a fodder scandal and fined ₹500,000 ($7,895).

The so-called ‘fodder scam’, which broke in 1996, relates to the siphoning off around $520 million in false expenses claims from the state government of Bihar for feed and medicines for non-existent livestock.

The 69-year-old Lalu Prasad had served as chief minister of Bihar between 1990 and 1997. He was implicated in the scandal in 1996.

Saturday’s ruling by the Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ranchi came roughly two weeks after it convicted him and 15 others in a case pertaining to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh ($130,551) from Deoghar Treasury when Lalu Prasad was the chief minister between 1991 and 1994.

This is the second fodder scam case in which he has been convicted. He was convicted in the first of six fodder scam cases in 2013 and sentenced to five years in jail.

He is currently lodged in Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi. Due to that conviction, he was debarred from contesting elections for 11 years.

Prabhat Kumar, counsel for Lalu Prasad, said on Saturday they will move Ranchi high court for bail on Monday.

The special judge pronounced the quantum of sentence to Lalu Prasad and 15 other convicts through video conference. Their jail terms ranged from three-and-a-half to seven years.

Soon after the ruling, RJD leaders held a meeting at Lalu Prasad’s residence in Patna under his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi and son and former deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav.

Reaffirming the party’s support to Lalu Prasad, Tejaswi said BJD would not be cowed down by the politics of revenge allegedly played by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the non-political fringe group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Janata Dal (United). It will emerge stronger, he said.