Ranchi: Bihar’s veteran politician Lalu Yadav, convicted in the multi-million-rupee fodder scam, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison on Saturday by a Jharkhand court. The judge announced the sentence via video conferencing; Lalu Yadav, after being brought to the court two days in a row, was at the Birsa Munda Jail in Jharkhand’s Ranchi, where he is lodged since his conviction two weeks ago.
Lalu Yadav’s partymen had hoped their leader would be sentenced to less than three years in prison as that will mean he can apply for bail immediately. He has been in prison since December 23, when he was convicted along with 15 others in the case, and has been allowed only three visitors a week according to the jail manual.
Lalu Yadav, a harsh critic of the ruling BJP, has alleged that he is a victim of political vengeance. Last year, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar dissolved his alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress and partnered with the BJP instead.
Mr Yadav was first convicted in a fodder scam case on September 30, 2013, and was awarded five years’ imprisonment on October 3 that year. He got bail after two months in prison, but his conviction meant he had to resign from parliament and cannot contest elections.
On December 23, the CBI court acquitted another former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra and five others in the case, which relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs. 84.5 lakh from the Deoghar district treasury between 1990 and 1994. Lalu Yadav was Chief Minister of undivided Bihar from 1990 to 1997.
34 people were accused in the case, of which 11 died during the trial, while one turned CBI approver and admitted to the crime. The 16 convicted people include three former IAS officers Phoolchand Mandal, Beck Julius and Mahesh Prasad.
Lalu Yadav faces trial in three more cases relating to the fodder scam, locally called the “Chara Ghotala”.