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BJP counters ‘Mandal’ politics, plays backward caste card

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Patna: The BJP is playing the backward castes card in a bid to counter the ‘Mandal’ politics of the grand alliance in the Bihar assembly polls, particularly Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad’s pitch for ‘backward versus upper caste fight’.

In order to woo the Dalits, Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ruled out any ‘sawarna’ (upper caste) person becoming the chief minister if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance won two-thirds majority in the state polls.

The ‘caste’ factor, re-entrenched by recommendations of reservations by the Mandal Commission, is again dominating the Bihar polls campaigning. Senior BJP leader and union minister Giriraj Singh said that the next Bihar chief minister would be either from the Dalits, OBCs or EBCs and not an upper caste.

“An upper caste cannot become the chief minister of Bihar; it is certain that if the BJP-led NDA comes to power, the next chief minister will be either from the OBCs or EBCs,” the union minister – who belongs to the powerful and landed Bhumihar upper caste with a strong presence in the state politics – told the media here.

The BJP leader played this ‘backward caste chief minister card’ two days after RJD chief Lalu Prasad said that the Bihar assembly polls were a fight between the backward and forward castes.

The BJP leader’s statement reflected the ground reality in Bihar and sent out a political message to OBCs and EBCs, who constitute around 50 percent of the voters in the state. He said the upper castes were only keen for the development of Bihar.

“Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar should not worry about the upper castes; they should play their caste politics to create divide and hatred in society,” Singh remarked.

Interestingly, going by the NDA list of candidates for the Bihar polls, it is clear that the party is essentially relying on the upper castes in the five-phased elections.

Of the 243 seats in the assembly, the four NDA parties have given tickets to 85 upper caste candidates, including 36 Rajputs and 28 Bhumihars, in the light of the fact that upper castes constitute approximately 14 to 15 percent of the Bihar population.

On the other hand, the grand alliance of the JD-U, RJD and the Congress has fielded 64 Yadavs – 48 of them by the RJD alone – apart from 33 Muslims. It reflects Lalu’s faith in his traditional social support base of MY (Muslim-Yadav).

The grand alliance is also relying heavily on the OBCs- Koeris and Kurmis. Thirty Koeris and 17 Kurmis, who are Nitish Kumar’s caste men, have been fielded by the grand alliance.

The NDA has not declared its chief ministerial candidate and BJP president Amit Shah and other senior leaders have repeatedly said that the chief minister-to-be will be decided after the polls.

According to political observers here, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for ending caste-based politics in Bihar, a deep-rooted tussle in the BJP between leaders of the upper and other backward castes during the assembly polls has put the BJP in a dilemma.

Perhaps realising the problem, Modi and party president Amit Shah are taking steps to ensure that none of these leaders is allowed to dominate the public discourse till the elections end, fearing it may anger either of the groups and thereby lead to erosion of the party’s social support base.

In the caste-ridden Bihar politics, over half a dozen BJP leaders from the upper castes and the backward castes have staked claims to the chief ministerial chair. “All of them are lobbying hard,” a BJP leader said.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Lok Sabha Election 2019: OBCs, STs and Upper Caste Hindus Swayed it for NDA

A dissection of religion-based voting pattern show that the NDA's largest support base was upper caste Hindus

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Lok Sabha Election 2019, OBCs
The NDA got overwhelming support across the broad spectrum of social strata. Pixabay

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) got maximum support from the Other Backward Castes (OBCs), followed by Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Scheduled Castes (SCs), according to the IANS-CVOTER analysis of the voting pattern in the General Election 2019.

Among the social groups, 47.1 per cent of OBCs voted for the NDA against 43.2 per cent STs and 39.5 per cent SCs.

The NDA got overwhelming support across the broad spectrum of social strata.

In comparison, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) got maximum 30.1 per cent of ST votes followed by 29.8 per cent of SC and 25.4 per cent of OBC votes.

Election
Data shows that 45.7 per cent Christians and 38.2 per cent Sikhs voted for the NDA. Pixabay

A dissection of religion-based voting pattern show that the NDA’s largest support base was upper caste Hindus as 51.6 per cent of the community voted for the Narendra Modi-led coalition.

The UPA, on the other hand, got 40.8 per cent share of the Muslim votes. Data shows that 45.7 per cent Christians and 38.2 per cent Sikhs voted for the NDA.

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The UPA got 28 per cent Sikh and 27.8 per cent of the Christian votes. Barring Muslims, all other religious groups went with the national trend of favouring the NDA. (IANS)

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Lalu’s 4th Fodder Scam Case: Court to Deliver Judgment on March 15

Judgment to the multi-million scam awaits!

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fodder scam, lalu prasad yadav
Besides Lalu Prasad, another former Chief Minister, Jagganth Mishra, and 30 others are also accused in this case. Wikimedia Commons

The hearing in a fourth multi-million rupee fodder scam involving former Bihar Chief Minister and RJD Chief Lalu Yadav concluded in Ranchi on Monday in a special CBI court, which fixed March 15 as the date for delivering its judgment.

The case relates to fraudulent withdrawals Rs 13.13 crore from December 1995 to January 1996 from the Dumka treasury.

ALSO READ: From Bofor’s to Coalgate: 20 more cities could have had metro trains if India was scam free

fodder scam, lalu prasad yadav
Lalu Prasad was convicted in the first case in 2013 and was awarded five years imprisonment. Wikimedia Commons

He was convicted by a special CBI court in the second case on December 23, 2017, and awarded three-and-a-half-years imprisonment on January 6. He was convicted in a third case on January 24 related to fraudulent withdrawals from Chaibasa treasury and was awarded a five-year term.

ALSO READ: Vyapam no longer a scam, it’s a massacre: AAP

He now faces another two cases — one in Ranchi and one in Patna.

The multi-million rupee fodder scam had surfaced in the 1990s when Lalu Yadav was the Chief Minister of undivided Bihar. The probe was handed over to CBI on the directive of the Patna High Court.

The bulk of the cases were transferred to Ranchi after Jharkhand was carved out from Bihar in 2000. (IANS)

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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?