|Lalu Prasad’s son Tejaswi Yadav (below) and RJD supporters outside the Birsa Munda Central Jail, Hotwar, in Ranchi on Monday. Pictures by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Dec. 16: RJD chief Lalu Prasad today walked out of jail, the 77th day after his conviction by a CBI court in the fodder scam, declaring war against the “NaMo wave” before 2014 Lok Sabha elections and promising to stay active in the country till “aloo” was.
The former Bihar chief minister was set free on bail this afternoon after state social welfare minister Annapurna Devi and Godda MLA Sanjay Yadav submitted a surety of Rs 25,000 each to the court of CBI special judge Bal Mukund Roy.
Issuing the release order, the CBI judge directed Lalu’s advocate Prabhat Kumar to not let the RJD chief leave the country without the court’s prior permission.
On December 13, the Supreme Court had granted bail to Lalu, directing the trial court to decide terms and conditions for his release.
After offering homage to the statue of tribal icon Birsa Munda on the Hotwar jail premises, Lalu emerged from the main gate around 1.45pm to greet hundreds of party workers and supporters.
Refuting suggestions the sun had set on his political career, the RJD chief announced that he would tour the entire country and mobilise secular parties.
Around 2.20pm, Lalu and son Tejaswi in an SUV, as well as cheering RJD leaders in a fleet of 150 vehicles, headed straight from Hotwar to Deori temple, Tamar, a 40-minute drive.
After offering puja at the temple, Lalu — whose MP tag had be stripped off after conviction — regained his trademark wit and dug out the old joke about Lalu and aloo to underline he was not a spent force.
“Sab bol rahe thhey ke Lalu khatam ho gaya…Desh mein jab aloo khatam hoga, tabhi Lalu khatam hoga (everyone had been saying Lalu was finished….Lalu would be finished the day potatoes vanish from the country),” Lalu quipped in his characteristic style at Deori.
He did not mince words while attacking the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi when asked to comment on the “NaMo wave” that swept the Assembly elections in four states recently.
“Modi ho ya jo ho. Aab hum nikal gaye hain jail se, kachcha pehn ke (Be it Modi or anyone else. Now, I am out of the jail, ready to take on anyone),” said the seasoned politician.
Interacting with mediapersons, Lalu made it clear he would not waste time. He is slated to return to Patna tomorrow. On his immediate priority list is visiting refugee camps in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh.
Early this morning, many senior party leaders from Bihar reached Birsa Munda Central Jail with party flags, banners and lanterns (the symbol of RJD) atop vehicles, chanting slogans such as Lalu, gareebo ka masiha, zindabad.
“Krishna Bhagwan ka janam jail mein hi hua tha. Jo bhagyashali hote hae, wahi jail jate hae (Lord Krishna was born in jail…only lucky ones get an opportunity to go to jail,” Lalu said, adding he had full faith in the judiciary and would ultimately get justice.
Before coming out of the jail today, Lalu appeared via video-conferencing before three CBI judges Sitaram Prasad, Bal Mukund Roy and A.K. Mishra in three other fodder scam cases — RC64A/96, RC47A/96 and RC68A/96.
When Mishra asked him if he was coming out of jail today, a witty Lalu said: “Humse undertaking manga hai ke hum bina puche videsh nahi jayenge. Hum to videsh jate bhi nahi hain. (The court has taken an undertaking from me that I will not leave the country without permission. I don’t go abroad anyway).”
Notably, the CBI court had found the former Bihar chief minister guilty in RC 20A/96, one of the fodder scam cases, on September 30, which involved fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.6 crore from Chaibasa treasury. The court awarded a five-year rigorous imprisonment to Lalu on October 3.