Jail or bail, Lalu in a win-win situation

Jail or bail, Lalu in a win-win situation

Still in the game

Lalu Prasad

“It’s ironic that leaders of the Mahagatbandhan are making a beeline in Ranchi to meet and discuss seat-sharing with a tainted person, convicted in a corruption case,” said Chirag Paswan, son of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. Chirag, who is LJP MP from Naxal-infested Jamui in Bihar, is also the chairman of the LJP Parliamentary Board.

Though Chirag did not name either Lalu Prasad or those who met him, the apparent reference was more than obvious.

Another NDA ally – the JD (U) was all the more scathing. “Leaders going to meet Prisoner No 3351 (read: Lalu Prasad) of Hotwar Jail in Ranchi have been ‘prostrating’ before the RJD chief for Lok Sabha tickets,” JD (U) MLC and party spokesperson Neeraj Kumar was ruthless while taking a jibe at the RJD president.

Read also: Despite behind bars, Lalu neither down nor out

These sarcastic remarks from the NDA camp have come at a time when the Jharkhand High Court is likely to pronounce its ruling on the bail plea of Lalu in fodder scam on January 11.

Lalu’s lawyer Kapil Sibal argued before the bench of Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh that when other politicians, including the then Animal Husbandry Minister Vidya Sagar Nishad, and other officials had been set free in fodder scam cases, how Lalu alone could be involved in conspiracy and corruption.

The noted Supreme Court lawyer also pointed out that since Lalu was the national president of the RJD, only he was authorised to select candidates for different parliamentary constituency. “Without his signature, the Election Commission would not allot symbols to the candidates,” contended Sibal.

As CBI counsel Rajiv Sinha opposed Lalu’s bail plea, the judge reserved his order for January 11.

Convicted in three different fodder scam cases by the CBI court, Lalu is languishing in jail since December 23, 2017. Currently, he is undergoing treatment at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi for multiple ailments, one more ground (as his lawyers claim) for granting him bail.

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“Lalu, who has weathered many a storm in his four decades of political career, is apparently in a win-win situation. If the Jharkhand High Court rejects his bail plea, he has the option to move SC. Till he gets bail from the apex court, he could portray himself as a ‘martyr’ (who has been put in jail out of political vendetta) and gain sympathy in rural hinterland in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls,” said social scientist Ajay Kumar. To buttress his point, he cited how the RJD won most of the bypolls in Bihar in 2018 despite Lalu behind bars.

“If in case, he gets bail, he will launch a blistering attack on Modi Government through numerous election rallies and may stop BJP in its tracks,” the political observer argued.

“We have full faith in the judiciary. Let’s hope Lalu ji gets justice,” RJD vice president and former Rajya Sabha member Shivanand Tiwary told Deccan Herald.

Read also: Seat pact only after inauspicious period is over: Lalu