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Bihar’s political fever: Decoding the implicit conspiracies and conniving leaders

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By Sreyashi Mazumdar

The land of Swaraswati, Bihar, has been juddering by tremors of political quibbles for a considerable time now. The saga started off with the two political stalwarts striking a deal – RJD-JD(U)- for the forthcoming elections, followed by BJP’s perseverance to crack down upon the prevalent arrangement in the state. As of now, the entire state has turned into a labyrinth, with political pundits and commoners finding it hard to detangle the mesh.

Picture credit: economictimes.com

According to a survey conducted by Zee News, about 46.3% of the people in Bihar want Nitish Kumar to be the chief minister, while, 37% want Sushil Kumar Modi to be the representative of the state, and 4.9 % of them are calling for Ram Vilas Paswan’s triumph in the assembly elections.

If one reads into the figures, one might end up inferring Nitish Kumar’s inevitable victory in the political duel; but with the kind of tricks the unbeatable maverick, Narendra Modi, takes to, it would be quite an incoherent conclusion to stick make.

The ostentation gets further escalated with Narendra Modi’s coveted visit to the state on Saturday.

Picture credit: ndtv.com

The saffron party made sure to make the much awaited ‘Parivartan rally’a grand affair, with billboards and newspaper ads plumping Modi’s development model. Despite sharing the stage with Nitish Kumar, Modi didn’t balk at unleashing his implicit ammos.

Toeing his fetish for development, he expounded his plans for the state.  “Considering the present situation, every state, in order to succeed, needs development. Be it illiteracy, poverty or lack of health care facilities, every problem has got one solution and that is development,” reiterated Modi.

Taking an implicit dig at the RJD supremo, Lalu Prasad Yadav, he said railway projects which were left incomplete would have touched new heights had NDA won the 2004 Lok sabha elections; but after UPA took over the reign, they started endorsing railway ministers from Bihar who were not able to deliver the required results.

Fleshing out his party’s intent for Bihar, he said the state requires a refurbished connectivity which would include all the three modes of transportation – railways, roadways, and air. He further harped on his purport to render the state special status later on.

Along with that, he inaugurated the IIT-Patna building, and further gave a green signal to the Patna-Mumbai AC Express train. He also ushered in the train service on the newly constructed Daniwan-Bihashraif rail line, as stated in an India Today report.

Picture credit: indiatoday.intoday.in

Although the string of schemes rolled out by the Prime minister at the meet reflected his noble intentions, a closer read into his quips and implicit attacks on the opposition parties give an inkling of his divide and rule policy.

In an attempt at wrecking the political set up, Modi has initiated the process of an in-explicit feud between the once arch rivals. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s recent dig at Narendra Modi throws light on the jitteriness borne by him after being accused of inefficiency by his adversary, “What about his ache din promises?” as quoted in an ABP news report.

Complying a similar feeling of antagonism, even Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar chastised Modi for his DNA-quip wherein the Prime Minister talked ill of the Bihar supremo’s DNA. According to an India Today report, Nitish Kumar said, “The people of Bihar and I share the same DNA.” The JD(U) supreme’s retaliation took place at a press conference which was held immediately after Modi’s departure from the state.

Mulling over the political developments in Bihar, one might be left stupefied at the turn of events; however, the fleeting moments, surely, leave a stench of breeding political conspiracies. Whether the newfangled bonhomie blows the conch of success or gets beleaguered by the conniving attempts of the old maverick is yet to be seen.

Modi’s Hunkar rally might have been perturbed by the bombings that took place just before his rally kicked off, but his attempt at pulling plug on his resisters through his Parivartan rally hints at his clandestine intentions of storming the current political scenario in the state and bringing a change that would inevitably pave his party’s path towards success in the forthcoming Bihar assembly elections.

 

 

 

 

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Facts About Fodder Scam: 21 Year Old Case Against Lalu Prasad Yadav

A Rs 1000 crore scam through a nexus of bureaucrats, elected officials, and businessmen which resulted in the conviction of more than 500 people

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Lalu Prasad Yadav is the highest profile person convicted in the Fodder Scam. Wikimedia Commons
Lalu Prasad Yadav is the highest profile person convicted in the Fodder Scam. Wikimedia Commons

BY SHANTAM SAHAI

  • 1000 crore scam with fraudulent withdrawals on the pretext of fictitious livestock
  • A nexus of bureaucrats, elected officials, and businessmen
  • All of it resulted in 500 convictions, including that of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav

India faces many challenges. Corruption, however, tops the list. It has proved to be an impenetrable loop in our system which continues to adversely affect the country’s economy and the credibility of our government agencies. This loop has a history of holding our economy back from reaching new heights and also stunted the country’s development process.

Let’s turn the pages of history to not long before 23rd December 2017, when RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav was convicted by a special CBI court in Ranchi for the Fodder Scam. In a quick followup he had tweeted:

In his tweet, he was supposedly attacking the BJP. The fact, anyway, remains that he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and was slapped a 25 lakh fine by the CBI court.

Many were not satisfied with the verdict, though.

What is the Fodder Scam?

Fodder scam, a corruption scandal, was next to a theft that spanned over twenty years. The embezzlement amounts to over ₹1000 crore from the government treasury in Bihar. It involved a number of administrative and elected officials from multiple departments. A scam of extremely high duration and magnitude, it proved the existence of a nexus between bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen. The Fodder Scam became a prime example of the ‘mafia raj’ that has penetrated the state-run economic sectors of the country.  

ALSO READ: Lalu acting as proxy leader to unleash ‘jungleraj 2’ in Bihar

How was it done?

It worked like a conspiracy where high-level politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen teamed up to fill their pockets with public money. Several fraudulent withdrawals from the Bihar treasury were made, on the pretext of procurement of fodder, medicines and animal husbandry for vast herds of fictitious livestock. It was done by forging several documents and fabricating allotment letters for making payment to suppliers for ‘non-supply or short supply’ of feed/fodder/medicines. Basically, huge withdrawals for the supply that never existed.

Fodder scam is so-called because of the fictitious livestock. Pixabay
Fodder scam is so-called because of the fictitious livestock. Pixabay
  • Suppliers, in connivance with officials enjoying political patronage, submitted forged documents and produced fake bills to claim reimbursements from the animal husbandry department.
  • They (suppliers) mentioned registration numbers of two-wheelers saying that cattle including buffaloes were transported over hundreds of kilometres by those vehicles.
  • Bills of 500 kg of mustard oil worth Rs 15 lakh meant to polish the horns of buffaloes were submitted and cleared.
  • Pigs were shown purchased from Ludhiana by animal husbandry officer RK Rana – who went on to become a Member of Parliament on RJD’s ticket. Rana claimed that during transportation of pigs from Punjab to Bihar, half of the pigs died at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

All these were bogus claims to withdraw huge amounts of public money.

For example, when the Deputy Commissioner of Jamshedpur district administration received an information that huge fraudulent withdrawal of Government money has been made in budget head 2403 of Animal Husbandry Department in the period 1991 to 1996, he got it inquired by a senior officer. It was found that in the said head 2403 Animal Husbandry, withdrawal has been made from Jamshedpur Treasury even more than the whole budget of Bihar State in the head.

The allotment for the whole State and the withdrawal from the Jamshedpur Treasury. Civil Court Ranchi
The allotment for the whole State and the withdrawal from the Jamshedpur Treasury. Civil Court Ranchi

This was a just a small part of the big picture, which once revealed, convicted more than 500 people.

How was the scam exposed?

Ravi S Jha, an Indian journalist, who was working with the Asian Age, then in Calcutta, was the first to name Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav of having implicit involvement in the scam. He not only found involvement of Bihar Government machinery in the scam but even mentioned how earlier governments too were flouting norms to make money illegally.

Many people believe the Fodder Scam was unearthed, for the first time, in 1996. However, Bihar Veterinary Association had already exposed the Animal Husbandry Mafia in 1985 through a Press Conference. Though in 1990, the executive committee of Bihar Veterinary Association was modified, and Dr Dinneshwar Prasad Sharma was made the General Secretary of BVA. The mafia now had control over the association.

ALSO READ: SC notice to Lalu in fodder scam case

The CBI investigation is said to have been driven by political consideration. Wikimedia Commons
The CBI investigation is said to have been driven by political consideration. Wikimedia Commons

At that point, Dr Dharmendra Sinha and Dr Biresh Prasad Sinha (Ex-officers of BVA) had started collecting information against this whole scandal. They had shared their information with Sushil Kumar Modi who initiated the whole episode of exposure after it was broken out by VS Dubey.

Who is VS Dubey?

VS Dubey was the Finance Commissioner, who came across some financial irregularities of massive scale. On 20th January 1996, he made an enquiry of the excessive withdrawals by Animal Husbandry Department from Ranchi treasury. The enquiry revealed a horrific whole scale loot of government money drawn through forged documents.

On 27th January 1996, Amit Khare, the Deputy Commissioner of West Singhbhum conducted raids (on direction from VS Dubey) on the offices of Animal Husbandry Department in the town of Chaibasa. The documents seized by him indicated a large-scale embezzlement by an organized mafia of officials and businessmen. Ravi S Jha’s work was based on the evidence found in Chaibasa.

CBI comes into the picture

The state police was probing the irregularities. However, it is accountable to the state administration and hence, there were fears that the probe committee would not investigate the case properly. People demanded the case be transferred to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is under federal rather than state jurisdiction.

Many members of the probe committee themselves faced allegations of being involved in the scam. A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court in March 1996, based on the directions issued by the SC, the Patna High Court ordered that the case is handed over to the CBI.

In the span of over two decades, the CBI registered 53 cases related to the Fodder Scam. More than 500 people have been convicted by various courts, including Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Aftermath and Impact

The Fodder scam has become a symbol of bureaucratic corruption and criminalization of politics. The investigation and prosecution are said to have been guided by political motive. Many lower level staffs who did not have any connection to the scam have been crucified in the process. Many families are left without any earning. And when the Lok Sabha debated for a complete session as ‘Lalu Prasad Yadav’ an official agenda, how can we look forward to a system that has set its priorities right?

The 1000 crore of tax payer’s money that was embezzled in the Fodder Scam, will it be compensated by 3.5 years of jail term or an acquittal?