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Fodder Scam Taint: Lalu Yadav's Men See a Better Future With Nitish Kumar

Two days ago, the Supreme Court asked a lower court in Ranchi to revive the conspiracy charges against Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam. The apex court has given nine months for the lower court to complete trials in the case, which is over two decades old.

Brijam Pandey, Alok Kumar

Updated:May 10, 2017, 8:11 PM IST
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Fodder Scam Taint: Lalu Yadav's Men See a Better Future With Nitish Kumar
File photo of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Patna: Two days ago, the Supreme Court asked a lower court in Ranchi to revive the conspiracy charges against Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam. The apex court has given nine months for the lower court to complete trials in the case, which is over two decades old.

The ramifications of the ruling have, expectedly, hit the spectrum of Bihar politics. Other than the spotlight on the mahagathbandhan between Lalu's RJD and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United JD(U) in the state, the ruling has also created a flutter in his own party.

Many Lalu Yadav loyalists, say sources, are contemplating switching sides. The ruling, they say, has rattled the old guards in the party who believe that the tainted leader will establish his son and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav in the party.

"There are many senior leaders in the party who think that Lalu Yadav will do everything to establish his son as heir apparent in the party. Many are mulling switching sides," a highly placed source told News18.

One of the names doing the rounds is that of finance minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui. Considered the Muslim face of RJD, Siddiqui has reportedly not been given due credit. "He is the finance minister but his ambit does not include the revenue department. With his strong presence in the Cabinet, he should have been made the head of the party," sources said, adding that the minister had the support of at least 30 MLAs who might all jump the ship with him.

Many others like Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Taslimuddin have also reportedly voiced their displeasure over revival of the charges and the prospect of his son heading the party. Coupled with the fact that Lalu Yadav's other children, son Tej Pratap and daughter Misa Bharti, have voiced their political aspirations, the feeling of RJD becoming a family-run party is rampant among the old guards.

ALSO READ: No Double Jeopardy, Lalu to be Tried for Conspiracy in Fodder Scam, Rules SC

"Lalu Yadav won't be able to contest elections post the conviction. And many in the party don't want to be led by his children," sources told News18.

This is not the first time when Lalu Yadav has been accused of promoting his family in the political arena. During the last elections, Ram Kripal Yadav and Shyam Razak had accused the RJD chief of indulging in dynasty politics. The fallout? Kripal switched over to BJP and Razak went with JD(U).

So, does the recent crisis spell doom for RJD? Interestingly, party members have said they are not sure.

"Lalu Prasad will always be our leader. But we don't know what will happen once the trial ends," said Raghuwans Prasad, a senior party leader. There are others like MLAs like Surendra Yadav and Jagdanand Singh who have junked these doubts.

For the RJD chief, the recent crisis looks like a rewind of what he had to face almost twelve years ago when Nitish Kumar came to power. Many switched over to JD(U) and Lalu Yadav had to fight a lonely battle to keep his party going. This was until JD(U) broke up with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the prime ministerial candidate. Realising it was difficult for him to charge at the saffron party alone, Nitish called Lalu Yadav on board and the grand alliance came to the fore.

But now, the alliance that was expected to take on the saffron brigade head on, seems to be losing ground. While, according to party sources, many from RJD are in touch with Nitish Kumar, JD(U) has also not voiced its support for the tainted leader.

Can Lalu overcome doubts from some of his own and continue to keep the party together? The next nine months will tell.

ALSO READ: Bihar Fodder Scam Files go Missing, FIR Registered

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