Tuesday 11 May 2021
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Game’s Over, Lalu

His ilk have fooled the people long enough, camouflaging their corruption by highlighting the rival’s so-called casteism and communalism

As the people were by and large disappointed by the verdict on the 2G scam by the CBI court in Delhi, in came a judgment from the Ranchi court that found an obvious wrongdoer guilty. Out of the six treasuries from which RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav allegedly misappropriated funds in what constituted the infamous fodder scam, he has been convicted in two. Legal experts say that the political future of the self-styled messiah of the underprivileged — provided they share his caste — is bleak as the courts are likely to view him as a habitual offender hereon, given that this is his second conviction. Former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, former Public Accounts Committee chairman Druv Bhagat, former Indian Revenue Service officer AC Choudhary, fodder suppliers Saraswati Chandra and Sadhana Singh and former minister Vidya Sagar Nishad have, however, been acquitted due to — once again — a weak prosecution that could not build an airtight case against each. Yadav’s laughable act of equating himself with Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and BR Ambedkar should not but go unchallenged. Other convicts like politicians Jagdish Sharma and RK Rana, IAS officers Beck Julius, Phoolchand Singh and Mahesh Prasad, government officials Krishna Kumar and Subir Bhattacharya, suppliers/transporters Tripurari Mohan Prasad, Sushil Kumar Sinha, Sunil Kumar Sinha, Raja Ram Joshi, Gopinath Das, Sanjay Agarwal, Jyoti Kumar Jha and Sunil Gandhi are a mix of the so-called upper and lower castes, with the ratio skewed in favour of the latter. While the criminal justice system of the country is smarting from innumerable flaws, caste bias has mercifully not influenced it so far.

The Rs 940 crore-worth fodder scam had disgusted the nation for its sheer audacity in an era when the security scam unfolding simultaneously was too technical for a commoner’s comprehension. While some bureaucrats had initiated the series of siphoning acts in the late 1970s by claiming reimbursements against fake bills, the lure of easy money soon attracted politicians no less than the chief minister of the time. Shockingly, the director general of the very wing that was supposed to check corruption, the vigilance department, was found with his hands in the till. Together, the politicians, officers and traders documented fictitious livestock of humongous proportions to claim repayment for fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment. One realised the magnitude of the scandal from the warnings of the CAG and principal accountant generals to the respective chief ministers of Bihar in the 1980s.

Thanks to the loophole-infested legal system of the country and its cynical democracy, Yadav still managed to rule by the proxy of his wife, Rabri Devi, while simultaneously emerging as an effective power broker in the ‘secular’ league. As the system plugged some of its holes, Yadav could not contest in the Bihar Assembly election of 2015 because the Supreme Court debars a convict from doing so, but was effective enough as a campaigner. The UPA is now set to turn weaker with Yadav incarcerated. For long, a cabal of the corrupt has forged ragtag coalitions, which managed to form governments by striking opportunistic post-poll alliances, engineered by the ilk of Yadav who are potent enough even when they cannot personally participate in elections. They have done so by successfully projecting the rival as a “communal” and “Brahminical” force. No more! The Ranchi court judgment uplifts the people from despondency. They know now that the powerful, the rich and those who clutch the straw of caste or community when caught in the act cannot always get away with murder. If there are two more courts Yadav could appeal to, there are also four more cases of the fodder scam he has to contend with. And if that were not enough, his children, brought up on the idea that they are beyond the law, are lined up for other trials.

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