| Crackers in an SUV at 10 Circular Road. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Patna, Sept. 30: Rabri Devi’s official residence — 10 Circular Road — bore a deserted look before the CBI court in Jharkhand announced its verdict in the fodder scam case.
Minutes before the verdict, a white SUV entered the premises. Nobody knew what it carried. As soon as the verdict was pronounced, media personnel ran in all directions. Suddenly, this reporter noticed three huge boxes of crackers in the SUV’s back seat.
A youth called Mehtab Alam rushed out of the bungalow and asked the driver to take the vehicle away. “Just go, I’ll come later,” he shouted.
The vehicle tried to escape the media’s glare but failed. A TV channel’s camera began panning it and showing the crackers. Alam was found snatching the packets from the TV reporter’s hand.
|Special CBI judge PK Singh and investigating officer AK Jha (right) on their way to the CBI court in Ranchi on Monday. Pictures by Prashant Mitra
A source in the RJD said Lalu Prasad’s eldest son Tej Pratap had asked his friend Alam to arrange for the crackers, to be used in celebration were Lalu to be acquitted. But the RJD students wing’s state unit president, Ajit Kumar Yadav, said, “The person who brought the crackers is not an RJD supporter.” He said, “The verdict is disappointing. The student’s wing wants Tej Pratap to lead the party now.”
Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi never emerged from the house. According to a close relative and insider, she remained glued to the television all morning with eldest daughter, Misa Bharti. “As soon as news of Laluji’s conviction flashed, Rabriji broke down. Misa tried to calm her down. Rabriji slammed chief minister Nitish Kumar, saying it was a big conspiracy against Saheb. She said she would go to the people to seek justice.”
Asked about the court verdict, chief minister Nitish Kumar said, “I don’t want to comment on court proceedings.”
Around 1.15 pm, former Vaishali MLA Veena Shahi reached 10 Circular Road. “Those who are in power or are supporting the ruling party are behind this. But the verdict won’t weaken the party. Laluji is a fighter and will fight on.”
On Lalu’s baton passing to Tejaswi now, she said, “He is learning now, Rabriji has gone through this before and is acceptable all the time.” She emerged two hours later to say, “Rabriji is fine. I want you people to give us time to recover from this disappointment.”
Lalu Prasad’s estranged brother-in-law Anirudh Prasad alias Sadhu Yadav was with Lalu. He went to Ranchi because of “family responsibility in difficult times” he told PTI.
The RJD office bore a deserted look. The police have sounded a state wide alert in the wake of intelligence reports that RJD supporters might indulge in vandalism.