|Lalu Prasad, with son Tejaswi (behind him), leaves the special CBI court near Albert Ekka Chowk for Birsa Munda Central Jail in Hotwar, Ranchi, on Monday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
New Delhi, Sept. 30: The BJP, claiming to be the “original crusader” against Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam, expressed a sense of satisfaction at justice having prevailed with the RJD chief’s conviction and stated that the decision proved that nobody, however high and mighty, was above the law.
However, it used the occasion to lash out at the Congress for allegedly scuttling the process of law by bringing in the ordinance to save convicted lawmakers.
In a statement, Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Arun Jaitley said: “It has taken 17 years for justice to be done. Public-spirited litigants who put the process of law into motion succeeded in getting the case transferred from the Bihar police to the CBI. They succeeded in preventing the CBI during the UPA government from sabotaging its own case. When conviction appeared to be inevitable, the UPA even prepared for life after conviction…the shameless UPA government approved an ordinance.”
Stating that the ordinance could not be approved “for reasons which are well known”, Jaitley alleged: “Today we have all understood why this ordinance was brought. Its only objective was to help a loyal UPA ally who was likely to be convicted.”
He added, “In the end justice has prevailed. Be you ever so high, the law is above you.”
Jaitley noted that if it was not possible to “manage all the people all the time”, it was because there were “men of integrity in every institution” and “many in the judiciary who still cannot be bent”. He said the accused (Lalu and the others) failed in their efforts to get the presiding judge changed. “The prosecutor was changed but the Supreme Court intervened and prevented that from happening and finally (came) a historic verdict holding the 45 persons guilty,” he stated.
Jaitley’s deputy in the Rajya Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said the fodder scam conviction was an “assurance for probity in our polity” and urged that the other big scams, linked to the UPA, should be pursued promptly, investigated and the guilty punished.
Prasad was among the BJP’s “original crusaders” with Sushil Kumar Modi and Sarayu Roy and had argued the PIL in Patna High Court asking for a CBI probe.
While Jaitley and Prasad confined their responses to the judicial verdict, BJP spokesperson and general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy said after claiming two former Bihar chief ministers, Lalu and Jagannath Mishra, the Rs 900 crore scam could potentially nail Nitish Kumar too.
Rudy alluded to a direction to the CBI from Jharkhand High Court to file an affidavit, explaining why Nitish and Janata Dal (United) Rajya Sabha MP Shivanand Tiwary had not been arraigned as accused in the scam.
The court’s directive was in response to a petition alleging that despite the “evidence” against Nitish and Tiwary, the CBI gave them a clean chit. The next hearing is on November 22.
Asked if Nitish’s growing proximity to the Congress was to seek a shield for himself, Rudy didn’t answer straight. He said: “The Congress has the ability to manipulate and tamper with affidavits before the court. It’s a sad situation for Bihar.”