|LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan addresses an election rally at Chiraiya in East Champaran on Friday. (PTI)
Rebel RJD legislator Samrat Choudhary filed a petition in the high court on Thursday questioning Lalu Prasad’s continuance as the party president after his conviction in the fodder scam.
The PIL also questioned the legitimacy of distribution of the party symbol to candidates by Lalu and asked the court to term the process null and void.
He said according to the rules, Lalu cannot be the party president after being convicted in the fodder scam. Samrat is an MLA from Parbatta in Khagaria district.
“I have filed the PIL against Lalu, as he cannot be the president of the RJD according to the party rules. According to the party constitution, a convicted person cannot be the party president,” Samrat said after filing the PIL. Samrat said he had approached the poll panel last month also and sought its intervention to cancel the nomination papers of RJD candidates because the ticket was distributed with the signature of a convicted party president.
Lalu, however, did not give much credence to it, dismissing the charges as “baseless” and “useless”. “There is no such party constitution that prevents me from being the party president,” he said, adding that Samrat had betrayed the RJD and was a defector.
“He (Samrat) has gone mad. I am the party boss and as president of the RJD, I have freedom to take party related decisions. No court can intervene in this,” he told journalists.
Samrat was the chief whip of the RJD in the Assembly before he revolted in February. He submitted a letter with the signatures of 13 legislators stating they were quitting the RJD and requested the Bihar Assembly Speaker to recognise them as a separate group.
Samrat, the son of senior RJD leader Shakuni Choudhary, had alleged that Lalu had turned his party into the “B team” of the Congress. According to reports, junior Choudhary was keen to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Khagaria — a Congress seat under a poll alliance.
The Speaker recognised them as a separate group, triggering a controversy following which Lalu alleged that he acted in violation of the anti-defection law. Samrat, who led the defection of 13 RJD MLAs and his father Shakuni, had been suspended by the RJD. However, nine of the 13 legislators later returned to the RJD.
Speaking to The Telegraph, the petitioner’s lawyer, SPK Manglam, said: “According to Rule 21 of the RJD constitution, anyone convicted in a corruption case would lose primary membership of the party. On that account, Lalu, convicted by a Ranchi court in a fodder scam case, was not eligible to hold primary membership of the party let alone the party president’s post. The distribution of symbols to candidates was illegal.”
Mangalam said: “We have asked the court to de-recognise the RJD, as the party does not have a legal president for the past six months. The party did not feel the need to inform the Election Commission of India (ECI) about it.”