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The life and crimes of Lalu Prasad Yadav: From fodder scam, whitewashing murder of Hindus to terrorising Patna for his daughter’s wedding

The CBI has levelled serious allegations against Yadav of misusing his office as the Railway Minister and even booked his wife Rabri Devi along with the two daughters Misa and Hema for being a part of the entire racket. 

Every day we wake up to new breaking news. So much is happening around us and living in a post-truth world does not come easy. We often don’t have the bandwidth to get to the real story, and at the same time, it might be unfair to blame the public for not keeping debacles in fresh memory due to the sheer number of controversial stories. 

“In this age of LED, there should be no place for lantern (RJD symbol),” said Nitish in an oblique reference to how he pulled Bihar out of the age of darkness after taking over as the CM of Bihar in November 2005. He went on to launch a blistering attack on the Lalu Prasad Yadav-Rabri Devi regime while asking them to compare his 15 years of good governance with 15 years of the previous regime wherein children were kidnapped in broad daylight, women raped, rampant murders and Naxal attacks were the normal and caste clashes were a recurring event. 

Lalu Prasad’s scams and crimes spanned from the 1990s till 2014 – almost over two decades. The list of crimes committed goes on, so much so that we now see him only going in and coming out of the jail premises. The people who tend to defend the former CM of Bihar rationalise it by arguing that a poor leader is being exploited or that it’s political vendetta (their favourite magic phrase that they believe whitewashes all crimes). Nitish Kumar – the incumbent CM of Bihar who has fought Lalu Prasad a number of times – has yet again decided to bypass his morality and side with RJD for the second time due to his political compulsions and limitations. In this context, I believe it’s important to refresh our memories of Lalu Prasad Yadav, his kin, and the infamous scams. 

This article is an attempt to list some of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s scams. In some cases, he has been convicted and is serving jail time, while in others he finds himself in the various post-FIR stages. The data presented in this piece has been collated from India’s leading dailies. 

The Fodder Scam

The Fodder Scam was unearthed during 1990s in united Bihar, when Jharkhand was still a part of the state. Lalu Prasad was then the serving Chief Minister. 

It was found that excessive withdrawals had been the trend for several years. For example, between the years 1993-96, Rs. 10.5 crores was approved by the government to purchase 5,664 pigs, 40,500 hens, 1,577 goats and 995 sheep. However, the State Department of Animal Husbandry withdrew a whopping Rs 255.33 crore. After factoring in over-expenses, according to the Auditor General’s report, the total fraudulent withdrawals stood at Rs. 409.62 crores. 

The Department of Animal Husbandry had allegedly issued fake bills for large disbursements from government treasuries across districts of undivided Bihar. It should be noted that Lalu Prasad had given himself the additional charge of the state’s Minister of Finance during this time. 

The Auditor General’s comments while preparing the report on financial irregularities drew the imagery which became synonyms for the fodder scam. He commented “cattle were transported on scooters, police vans, oil tankers and autos”

The respective scam covered districts of present-day Jharkhand namely, Ranchi, Chaibasa, Dumka, Gumla and Jamshedpur along with Banka in Bihar. The scale of the fodder scam was estimated at Rs 950 crore (in rough value through dollar conversion, it would be approx. Rs 2,255 crore today).

How Lalu politicised the Sabarmati Express fire at Godhra

Lalu was sure of Congress being in his control as always, therefore, hindrance could only come from RSS/BJP. His safety was assured if he kept attacking them. 

Between 2004-09, Lalu Prasad served as the Minister of Railways and ordered a fresh probe into the Sabarmati Express fire at Godhra in Gujarat, the incident in which 59 people were killed on February 27, 2002, by Islamists.

Prasad commented on his political rival and former Minister of Railways, Nitish Kumar, that by not setting a departmental probe he was an equal partner in the conspiracy.

Lalu argued that as per the forensics report “no inflammable material was thrown in the compartment of the Sabarmati Express from outside. The only damage done to the coach was by stone-throwing”.

Nitish Kumar (Minister of Railways from 1998-99 & 2001-04) denied any conspiracy charges and found them to be baseless. According to Kumar, the Godhra incident was probed by the Commissioner for Railway Safety as per the statutory requirement.

Yadav’s statement, according to Kumar was political in nature. He went on to argue, “I demand that the first report on the incident, filed by the DRM be made public to clear all doubts”. 

Lalu’s daughter gets married: Terror for Patna

The saga circles around the wedding of Lalu’s second eldest daughter, Rohini Yadav. The marriage took place in 2002 when Lalu’s goonda raj was at its peak. 

One day before the wedding, Subhas Yadav’s (Lalu’s brother-in-law) subordinates raided numerous car dealerships in Patna including Mithila Motors, Karlo Automobiles, Ashiyana Holdings, Lawly & Sen, Daewoo Motors, and Guinea Motors. They forcefully drove away with as many as 45 brand new premium cars to ferry the VIP guests. Those who dared to resist were reportedly manhandled and the windowpanes of their showrooms were smashed. 

In the stockyard of TELCO at Deedarganj, about 35 km from Patna the subordinates drove off with five luxury vehicles – two Tata Safaris and three Tata Sumos. The drivers and fuel for the vehicles were reportedly arranged by some local policemen responsible for escorting the group. Additionally, 100 sofa sets and other furniture items from a dozen shops, designer suits and clothing worth Rs. 7 lakhs from Raymond’s exclusive showrooms, about 50kg of dry fruits along with other grocery and confectionary items worth thousands of rupees were taken away forcefully from the respective business owners. 

For five days before the wedding the entire state machinery, especially Patna Police was pressed into serving the CM, the Yadav family, and their guests. 

The message was quite apparent when CM Madam Rabri Devi and her husband Lalu Prasad’s daughter gets married, the entire nation is supposed to contribute. Whether the contribution is voluntary or involuntary – does not matter. 

Corporates flee from a lawless Patna

The automobile giant Telco decided to shut down its operations in Patna on May 24, 2002. As the offices closed, the buzz ripped through the country that the company may be pulling out of the capital city altogether. However, allegedly under pressure Telco denied such a claim through a subsequent press release on May 30. 

As per the report by the Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, over 10,000 traders and businessmen had fled from the state during that decade under the Yadav family’s rule due to fear of life or extortion. 

How they justify the goondaraj by Lalu Prasad Yadav

  • As for the inimitable Lalu, his take of the sordid events is the usual: ‘It’s all propaganda to defame him and bring a bad name to the daughter’s marriage’.
  • A senior minister in the Rabri Devi cabinet, Shakil Ahmad Khan, has also come to the rescue and said, “anyone can file an FIR on flimsy charges to defame someone.”
  • “Jab saiyan bhaye kotwal to dar kahe ka?” quipped the Samajwadi leader and political showman Amar Singh at Lalu Yadav, referring to Lalu’s newly acquired samdhi
  • “I have not spent much, all these arrangements have been made by my well-wishers,” said Lalu Yadav, when asked about the expenses incurred on daughter’s marriage. 
  • “Lalu Yadav aur mukhya mantri ki beti yani Bihar ki beti,” was a satirical remark by a top official on duty at the wedding.
  • Lalu Yadav proclaims himself to be the son of a poor man, vows to fight feudal elements and when charge-sheeted in the infamous Rs 950-crore fodder scam case claimed he was being politically victimised. 

BJP’s Opposition leader in the Bihar assembly, Sushil Kumar Modi, had demanded an unqualified apology from Lalu and Rabri Devi as well as a probe into the FIR vis-à-vis the delay in its filing. He further commented, “we’re planning to go to court and file a PIL over this open hooliganism by RJD workers and their anti-social elements”. Modi has also alleged that approximately Rs 5 crore has been spent on the marriage and requested the Income-Tax Department to take a serious look into the expenditure. 

Lalu versus Kapoori Thakur

A new corporate culture seems to be brimming in the Indian political scene. There is an apparent mismatch between the value systems idealised by the politicians and the standards of conduct displayed in reality. 

Lalu considered Kapoori Thakur, the first non-Congress CM of Bihar as his ‘political guru’. He is revered as the real champion for the cause of Dalits and the poor. Yet, we get to see some stark differences between the wedding of Kapoori Thakur’s daughter while he was the serving CM and the wedding of Lalu’s daughter in 2002. 

  • While Thakur married off his daughter in his native village. Lalu Yadav had printed around 10,000 cards for Rohini’s marriage. Karpoori Thakur had ordered none. 
  • Lalu-Rabri engaged the services of the Public Relations Department, sub-inspectors, policemen and magistrates to distribute the invitations. Karpoori Thakur had warned all his officials that if any of them was even found near the marriage site or engaged in preparing for the ceremony, action would be taken against them. Initially, even the cabinet members were not apprised of the event, however, when they were made aware they offered help to Thakur. To which he responded, “it is the wedding of Kapoori Thakur’s daughter, not the CM’s daughter”. 
  • A close assistant of the late Thakur says that he had incurred a total expenditure of Rs 10,000-11,000 on the wedding in the mid-seventies. On the other end of the spectrum, we see Lalu spending roughly Rs 3-4 crore on his daughter’s marriage.

Lalu Prasad Yadav as Railway Minister

It has been reported that the modus operandi of RJD leaders was to lure people seeking jobs and demand land in exchange of the same. 

“The modus operandi was that you give me land and in return, I will give a Group D job in the Railways. Here, the land was first granted in someone else’s name and after 5-6 years it was gifted to Yadav and his family”. – by the said group-D employee

In the FIR which has now been made public, the CBI has given details of how the “land for job” scam was executed. The following was presented by CBI:

  • Twelve persons were appointed as substitutes in six different zones when Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Railway Minister between 2004-09 and seven land deals went through. 
  • Enquiry revealed that 1,05,292 square feet of land were acquired in Patna through the seven sales deeds. Of this, five were sale deeds and two were gift deeds. All acquired land was purchased through cash. The present value of the circle rate of acquired land stands at over Rs. 4.39 crores.
  • The value of land purchased by Lalu’s family was much lower than the market rate and the prevailing value of land is much higher than the circle rate.
  • No public advertisement or public notice was issued, yet residents of Patna were appointed as substitutes in Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata and Hazipur railway zones. 
  • No guideline was followed in candidates’ applications while filing their appointments. They did not even give the full address of the General Manager under the Central Railways. However, the applications were still processed, and appointments were made. 

Another case of corruption against Lalu and his family members is under investigation. CBI charge-sheeted Lalu, his wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav in the case in 2018, wherein he favoured a private company for prime land in Patna while he was serving as the Minister of Railways. 

A CBI enquiry shows that the Department of Railways sought bids for developing, operating, and maintaining Rail Ratna Hotels on September 16, 2006. The probe agency concluded that Lalu Prasad Yadav, as the Railway Minister was aware of the whole process and was keeping a track of the tender proceedings. After the tender was awarded to Sujata Hotels, the ownership of Delight Marketing changed hands from Sarla Gupta to Rabri Devi and Tejaswi Yadav between 2010 and 2014. By this time Lalu Prasad had demitted the office of Minister of Railways. 

The CBI has levelled serious allegations against Yadav of misusing his office as the Railway Minister and even booked his wife Rabri Devi along with the two daughters Misa and Hema for being a part of the entire racket. 

In 2017, the CBI filed a case against Lalu Prasad Yadav and others during his same tenure, accusing him of selling prime railway IRCTC properties to a Bihar-based hotel group. Lalu and others were held guilty and are currently out on bail.

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