The Supreme Court judgment July 10 to keep politicians in lawful confinement out of the electoral fray, even if they are not convicted, has caused worry to deepen among many Bihar leaders.
Many top political leaders of the state, including former chief minister and leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Lalu Prasad, have been huddled with party leaders, family, friends and legal experts to deliberate on ways to get around the ruling.
Lalu Prasad is charged in the fodder scam case, which according to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) caused the state losses of Rs.900 crore.
“Lalu Prasad is restless and nervous. He privately told some senior party leaders that he faced a serious threat of disqualification,” a senior RJD leader said.
Lalu is likely to be convicted sooner or later in a case (RC-20 A/96) pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of funds from the treasury at Chaibasa, in West Singbhum district, which now falls in the state of Jharkhand.
The only comfort the former chief minister can draw is that the Supreme Court July 9 suspended the trial proceedings in the case, and sought the CBI’s response to his allegation that he did not expect a fair trial from the CBI court’s special judge in Ranchi, Jharkhand.
“Lalu may be the first victim of the apex court’s verdict if he is convicted in the fodder scam this month or next,” Mahender Yadav, a Right to Information activist, said.
Jagdish Sharma, MP from the ruling Janata Dal-United, also has reason to be concerned by the apex court’s verdict.
Sharma, too, faces charges the fodder scam along with Lalu Prasad.
Newly-elected RJD MP Prabhunath Singh faces trial for the murder of an legislator in the mid-1990s.
In Bihar, 141 of the state’s 243 legislators are being tried on various criminal charges.
According to the official records and the affidavits filed by the legislators in the 2010 assembly polls, National Election Watch observed that 85 legislators face serious charges like murder, attempt to murder and extortion.
At least 43 of the 118 JD(U) legislators face such serious charges.
A JD-U legislator from Goh assembly seat, Ranvijay Kumar, won the last polls contesting from behind the bars, and remains in jail on a murder charge. He has spent over five years in jail.
Twenty-nine of the the BJP’s 91 legislators in the state are being tried on different charges.
BJP legislator from Narkatiaganj in West Champaran, Satish Chandra Pandey, has 11 criminal cases lodged against him, including two of murder.
Seven of the 22 RJD legislators also face trial. Party legislator Surendra Prasad Yadav from Belaganj in Gaya district has two murder cases against him.