Lalu Prasad arrives at the CBI court in Ranchi on Monday. (Prashant Mitra)
Ranchi, July 14: RJD chief Lalu Prasad, former Bihar chief minister and Union minister, appeared before the special CBI court of A.K. Rai here today to record his statement in a fodder scam case (RC 64A/96) to seek refuge in rhetoric and claim he was as pure as Ganga.
Case RC 64A/96 is related to alleged excess withdrawal of Rs 84.53 lakh from Deoghar treasury, in which Lalu along with 40 others are accused. It is among the four fodder scam cases pending against Lalu in different CBI courts in Ranchi.
Responding to the charge that he had given job extensions to fodder scam-accused like S.B. Sinha and Ramraj Ram, and stayed B.N. Sharma’s transfer though the latter’s excessive withdrawal was brought to Lalu’s notice, the flamboyant politician quipped he had extended the tenure of IPS G. Narayan, father-in-law of current CBI director Ranjeet Sinha.
“So what? I gave job extension to father-in-law of your CBI director also,” Lalu told the court, adding he did the same for some 100 officials across departments on merit. “It was the same case with the animal husbandry department officials. Politicians like Jagannath Mishra and others recommended their cases. Then, there was no corruption charge against them. And in Delhi’s Ram Rajya, how come rules were bent to appoint Nripendra Misra (principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi),” he took a jibe.
Accompanied by his law-yers Chitranjan Prasad and Prabhat Kumar, Lalu arrived at the courtroom sharp at 11.2am. The hearing lasted from 11.05am to 3.24pm.
For four hours, Lalu defended, hectored, lectured, campaigned, whined and charmed.
The judge asked for Lalu’s reply to 31 specific charges such as whether he patronised the fodder scam, gave job extensions to the accused, stopped vigilance inquiry when matters came to his notice, received hospitality and favours from accused and others.
On one occasion, Lalu called himself a yogi as pure as the waters of river Ganga.
During the course of his statement, Lalu referred to the judge as “sir” 272 times, slammed the CBI as a parrot and a bogus investigative agency 46 times and he pleaded innocence and sought justice 10 times at least.
Though the light of the laltain (lantern), the symbol of the RJD, dimmed to four seats in the 545-member Parliament following Lok Sabha polls 2014, Lalu proffered generous anecdotes of golden days when he ruled Delhi from Patna. “V.P. Singh se lekar H.D. Deve Gowda aur I.K. Gujral ko hamne PM banaya. K.R. Narayanan ko President banaya. (From V.P. Singh to I.K. Gujral to I.K. Gujral, I made them PMs. I made K.R. Narayanan the President),” Lalu recalled.
“Sab chaunk gaye ki kaun hai ye Bihar ka admi jo itna popular hai. Maine gareeb gurbey ko pahachan di jiski wajah se mujhe fansaya gaya (Everyone was stunned that who’s so popular sitting in Bihar. I gave identity to the poor which is why I was framed),” Lalu told the court.
It seemed Lalu wanted to convince the court that he was not a spent force even if he was technically debarred from contesting elections following his conviction in fodder scam case RC 20A/96 and his party routed in Bihar and Jharkhand.
“In Bihar, we netted 1.7 crore votes (in Lok Sabha elections). In most seats, the RJD candidate was runner-up. You stopped me from contesting election and you can see how the Opposition has become a group of dumb people in the face of the autocratic Modi government. Had I been in parliament I could have given them a fitting reply,” he said.
Several times, the judge interrupted Lalu and asked him to stick to the question.
In reply, Lalu turned charmer. “Upar bhagwan par vishwas hai aur niche aap par (There’s god above and you on earth to trust),” he said.
Accusing “the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India)” of all the “garbari (mess)”, he said they should be handcuffed, but the “nakli CBI wala (fraud CBI men)” conspired against him.
“CBI ek murgi ko nau baar halal karma chahati hai. Ek hi mamle me kai baar mukadma (CBI wants to butcher the same hen nine times. One case and multiple trials),” he added, denying having any information about fodder scam.
“I was drunk on social justice and communal harmony when the scam took place. But I was made a victim,” he said.
Keen on JMM
RJD chief Lalu Prasad extended an olive branch to JMM chief Shibu Soren on Monday, eyeing an alliance for upcoming Assembly polls “to keep communal forces at bay”. He announced this at a news meet in the evening at state guest house in Ranchi.