03 OCT 2013
Lalu Prasad jailed for five years, MP no more
Ranchi: Lalu Prasad has been sentenced to five years in jail for corruption in a case linked to the massive fodder scam that unfolded while he was Chief Minister of Bihar. He has also been fined Rs. 25 lakh and stands disqualified as an MP.
Lalu and other convicts in the case heard the verdict via video conference. “When I have not committed any crime, how can I be punished?” the 66-year-old Bihar politician reportedly said after the order was announced. Lalu’s counsel said that he will appeal against the verdict in the Jharkhand High Court on October 17.
Mr Prasad has been in jail in Ranchi since Monday, when he was found guilty of facilitating the embezzlement of 37 crores of government money for fictitious medicines and fodder for cattle.
A spokesperson for his Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD said the party “has never been as united as it is now” and announced it will appeal against the verdict.
Another former chief minister of Bihar, Jagannath Mishra of the Congress, was sentenced to four years in prison. Jagdish Sharma of the ruling Janata Dal United, also got a four-year sentence which means he is no longer a member of parliament.
“These politicians had forgotten their constitutional oath and the faith reposed in them by people,” the judge said.
The Supreme Court in July ruled that convicted law-makers stand disqualified immediately. The government yesterday withdrew an ordinance that sought to nullify that. The opposition had said the ordinance was introduced in a rush to protect Mr Prasad, who has been a close ally of the minority government. (Cabinet withdraws ordinance on convicted lawmakers)
Mr Prasad has to decide who will head his party in his absence, and who the RJD should choose as its candidate for his constituency of Saran. National elections are due by May.
His wife Rabri Devi, who has been chief minister of Bihar thrice, said, “Lalu will run the party from jail. No matter where he is, he will run the party.” She had earlier talked about running the party along with her son “like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi run the Congress.”