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Laloo Yadav says he will not resign, even if he is indicted in animal fodder scam

Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal president Laloo Prasad Yadav says he will not quit either post in the wake of his interrogation by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Rs 10 billion animal fodder scam.

Laloo Yadav dismissed as "freakish" speculation that he might leave the Dal to help Congress president Sitaram Kesri replace Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.

"I am not an Aya Ram Aur Gaya Ram in politics and there is no question of deserting the Dal and the United Front," he said, adding that, "the UF government is mine and I will continue to strengthen it."

Referring to media reports that Kesri -- who also hails from Bihar -- might become prime minister through a realignment of the Congress with some UF constituents, Laloo Yadav quipped, "Mr Kesri could become the prime minister only after 2000."

Replying to a pointed question whether he would resign from the twin posts if chargesheeted in the fodder scam, Laloo Yadav declared that those who were seeking his resignation had not made him chief minister.

"No one has understood my mettle... I am in politics since 1965... I have the capacity to fight it out alone," he said.

When one reporter asked him about the possibility of his dismissal from the chief ministership as well as the Dal president, Yadav was quick to take offence. "Who will remove me? As Dal chief I can sack anyone," he declared.

He accused CBI Joint Director U N Biswas of acting like a politician. He complained that the CBI officer was "totally biased against him." Biswas headed the CBI team which interrogated Laloo Yadav for nine hours on Monday.

Saying "I have no vishvas (confidence) on Biswas," the chief minister said he would write to the CBI director, demanding that Biswas be removed from the scam investigation.

The CBI's investigation, he said, should have gone back to 1977 when irregularities in the animal husbandry department first started taking place. "Interrogation by the CBI does not mean that I am guilty," the CM declared.

Yadav then accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of involvement in the "conspiracy" to indict him. There was a remarkable similarity between Biswas's remark on Tuesday that the chief minister was likely to be chargesheeted in the case and BJP leader Sushil Mody's remarks in the state assembly.

The BJP, on the other hand, demanded Yadav's immediate arrest. Sushil Mody, the leader of the Opposition in the Bihar assembly, claimed that the CBI, which had already delayed Yadav's interrogation, was now trying to save him from being chargesheeted.

If the investigating agency claimed to have collected ample evidence against the chief minister Mody asked why it had not arrested Yadav as it had three legislators -- belonging to the BJP, Congress and Janata Dal -- without interrogating them.

He alleged that the Janata Dal -- which heads the United Front at the Centre -- was trying to save Yadav from being arrested by defaming CBI Joint Director Biswas, who was a dalit by caste.

Referring to Yadav's insinuation that Biswas and Mody were in cahoots, the BJP leader said he had never met Biswas nor ever talked to him.

"My statement in the state assembly that Mr Yadav might be chargesheeted by January 15 was based on media reports about the pace of the scam investigation and on my personal calculations that had Mr Yadav been interrogated in December the chargesheet could have been filed by mid-January," Mody said.


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