Jharkhand high court rejects Lalu Prasad’s bail petition
RANCHI: In a blow to former Bihar chief minister and RJD boss Lalu Prasad, the Jharkhand High Court on Thursday rejected his bail petition. Lalu is serving a five-year sentence after being convicted by a special CBI court in a fodder scam case.
Justice R R Prasad upheld the objections raised by the CBI in denying bail to Lalu, who is accused in four more cases related to the fodder scam. “We are waiting for the detailed judgment that runs into several pages to take a decision,” Lalu’s counsel Anil Kumar Sinha said when asked if they were planning to move the Supreme Court.
Lalu’s imprisonment is a political setback to the RJD as his absence has helped Bihar CM Nitish Kumar expand his role as the “secular” bulwark against BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi in Bihar. The RJD boss established his “secular” credentials by ordering the arrest of L K Advani in 1990 when he had taken out a Rath Yatra for the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya.
Kumar managed to loosen Lalu’s hold by an ambitious outreach towards Muslims, but was hamstrung by his partnership with the BJP until he broke away on the issue of Modi’s PM candidature. The Bihar CM had since assiduously built upon the opening by taking on Modi.
He has been facilitated by the absence of Lalu, the latter’s imprisonment has encouraged BJP to seek a slice of the Yadavs, the other prong of Lalu’s MY (Muslim-Yadav) coalition which kept him in excellent stead.
On Sunday, Modi had reached out to Yadavs, facing a leadership void, by telling them that they need not worry as the BJP would take care of their interests.
Expressing shock over the decision, RJD leader Rajneeti Prasad said they had not lost hope. “We are with our leader and will support him all the way. The party is sure that the RJD chief will come out clean in this matter,” he said.
After being sentenced on October 3, Lalu’s counsel failed to move the HC immediately because of Durga Puja vacations. Eventually, the bail plea was filed on October 17.
Lalu’s counsel requested the court to take the RJD chief’s age and past record into consideration and grant bail. But the CBI objected and said it was the first time that people in high offices had been brought to book in the fodder scam and Lalu’s involvement in the conspiracy was proved in court beyond any doubt.