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Rediff.com  » News » Why Lalu's conviction is a defining moment in politics

Why Lalu's conviction is a defining moment in politics

September 30, 2013 17:22 IST

The only objective of the government’s ordinance was to protect it’s loyal ally, says BJP’s Arun Jaitley

From 1990 to 2005 Lalu Prasad Yadav and his party gave to Bihar the worst possible government.  His government was popularly referred to as the ‘Jungle Raj’.  It was governance at its worst.  Ministers and civil servants barely attended the sachivalaya. Vulgarity was a political style. Corruption was rampant. A new ideology was born which emphasised that growth and development do not get votes.  It is only caste and community polarisation, which are an instrument of getting and retaining political power.  When  Lalu Prasad Yadav was arrested for the fodder case there was no second in command in the party. His wife (Rabri Devi) became the chief minister.  A caste polarised state accepted her as the chief minister. She even won an election.

The year 2005 was a watershed year for Bihar.  This regime was overthrown by the electorate. By then Lalu Prasad had moved to the Centre as a Union minister. He became a balancer for the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) in its pursuit of coalition politics. He had a vested interest in supporting the UPA. Besides being in power he could manage to manipulate the CBI, which was prosecuting his case to sabotage the prosecution.

In the year 2004, the first major attack on the UPA government was on the issue of seven tainted ministers being a part of the council of ministers. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh defended the tainted. Lalu Prasad was the foremost among the tainted who were being prosecuted. Some of his cases were successfully killed by the prosecution. The disproportionate assets case witnessed a change of judge, a change of the prosecutor, a special bench of the income tax appellate tribunal and a judgment, which hardly inspired confidence.
The CBI decided not to appeal against the judgment. When the Bihar government appealed against the judgment the CBI successfully challenged the locus of the Bihar government to file the appeal.

The disproportionate assets case was given a judicial burial.  One can manage the system on some occasions. It is not possible to manage all the people all the time. There are some men of integrity in every institution.  There are many in the judiciary who still cannot be bent. The accused were uncomfortable with the presiding judge, efforts to get him changed failed.  The prosecutor was changed but the Supreme Court intervened and prevented that from happening and finally a historic verdict holding the 45 people guilty. They include politicians, civil servants, middlemen and contractors.

It has taken 17 years for justice to be done. Public-spirited litigants who put the process of law into motion succeeded in getting the case transferred from the Bihar police to the CBI. They succeeded in preventing the CBI during the UPA government from sabotaging its own case. When conviction appeared to be inevitable the UPA even prepared for life after conviction.  The amendment to section 8 (4) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 was proposed. When Parliament did not approve the bill and referred it to the standing committee, the shameless UPA government approved an ordinance. 

The President was reluctant to sign the ordinance. The ordinance could not be approved for reasons, which are well known. Today we have all understood why this ordinance was brought. Its only object was to help a loyal UPA ally who was likely to be convicted. In the end justice has prevailed. Be you ever so high the law is above you. 

Arun Jaitley