Patna, Sept. 18: Apprehending a not-so-favourable verdict for Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam case, members of the RJD are engaged in behind-the-scene parleys to fix a strategy for the 2014 elections.
The CBI court, Ranchi, has fixed September 30 as the day of judgment in the RC-20A/96 case. The court of P.K. Singh will deliver the verdict against 45 accused in the case, including former chief ministers Lalu and Jagannath Mishra, JD(U) MP Jagdish Sharma in connection with “fraudulent withdrawal” of Rs 37.7 crore from the Chaibasa treasury in the ’90s.
In fact, sensing a threat to his position in the backdrop of the trial, the RJD boss initiated his second son Tejaswi in the party on September 11 at a conclave in the presence of senior MPs, legislators, former ministers and cadre.
Grapevine has it that Lalu might once again falls for his wife, Rabri Devi, and gets her nominated as the working president, while keeping the party’s remote control in his hands.
“It will be an easy thing to do. We had Rabri as the chief minister when Lalu went to jail in 1997. She was acceptable to the cadre as the party, under her stewardship as the chief minister, staged a comeback to power in the 2000 elections. There is no reason why she would not be acceptable now,” said a senior party MP.
Legal experts said in the event of the court convicting Lalu for over two years, the latter was bound to be remanded in judicial custody.
“Lalu might get bail later if his petition challenging the lower court’s verdict was accepted in the higher courts. But there will be a question mark on his entering the poll fray in 2014. There will be many ifs and buts on that score,” said a senior high court lawyer.
A few people close to Lalu said the RJD boss also discussed about nominating the senior-most party MP and former Union rural development minister, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, as the working president in the “core group” of the party. “But the rest of the party’s two Lok Sabha MPs, Prabhunath Singh and Jagdanand Singh, too, belong to the upper caste Rajputs. The appointment of Raghuvansh might amount to neglecting the two other Rajput stalwarts, which the RJD boss could ill-afford to do at this stage,” said an RJD insider.
Moreover, 15 per cent of the Yadavs are believed to constitute the RJD’s core vote bank.
“Lalu would not do anything to antagonise the Yadavs,” a senior RJD leader said, adding: “The party’s Muslim stalwarts such as Abdul Bari Siddiqui, MAA Fatimi and Taslimuddin are more interested in contesting the Lok Sabha polls than getting involved in the organisational matter.”
Siddiqui, the RJD legislature party leader, ruled out a split in the party in the event of the CBI court convicting Lalu. “Our opponents are day dreaming. The party is not going to split in any case. Why should we split when the chief minister Nitish Kumar’s graph on popular scale is down, while Lalu Prasad is on a high after the resounding victory at Maharajganj Lok Sabha seat?” Siddiqui asked.