Ranchi: Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad has been sent to jail for five years in the fodder scam, though the party will appeal the sentence. The order means Lalu will not only be disqualified as an MP, he may also not be able to contest the next Lok Sabha election unless his conviction is overturned by a higher court.
Lawyer BMP Singh said, "Lalu Yadav has to serve a 5-year term. He also has to pay a fine of Rs 25 lakh."
The court order in the fodder scam came as a big blow for the RJD chief. The man ruled Bihar for 15 years but now as he walks into jail there is a big question mark on his political future.
Janata Dal United leader Sabir Ali said, "I believe the verdict will severely affect Lalu's career as he was driven out of politics earlier as well. It will also send out a strong message to people."
The colourful politician who began his career in 1970 with the Jai Prakash Narayan Movement, will now lose his lok sabha seat and will not be able to contest the Lok Sabha election unless his conviction is overturned by a higher court.
RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad said there is no leadership crisis in the party. "The decision is a blow to the party, but we won't be brought down by it. When our leader gets indicted in a scam like this every member comes together so the party doesn't suffer. There is no crisis, no problem in the leadership."
Lalu's loyalty to the Congress party did not pay off. After immense criticism, the UPA govt was forced to withdraw the ordinance and the Bill to protect convicted legislators.
Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal said, "Laluji can appeal to higher courts, how can he lose his MP seat just by verdict of a lower court? It's wrong."
The other high profile politician to land in jail was former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra who has been sentenced to four years in jail.
Lalu Prasad was once a formidable force in Bihar politics, extremely popular among the Yadavs and Muslims, but today a sizable portion of that Muslim votebank has moved to Nitish Kumar's JD(U). Nitish party is cosying up to the Congress and this story also reflects the changing face of Bihar politics.
Lalu's wife Rabri Devi said, "The verdict against Lalu has been unjust, we will appeal against this in the high court."
In Lalu's absence his wife Rabri Devi will be running the party along with her son Tejaswi.
They hope the higher courts will rule in their favour. For now Lalu will remain in Birsa Munda Jail as qaidi number 1528.