Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad will appeal in the Jharkhand high court against his conviction in a fodder scam case, his family said on Monday and alleged he had fallen victim to a 'conspiracy' by his rivals.
"We will appeal in the high court. We have full faith in the judiciary," Prasad's son Tejeswi Yadav told reporters in Ranchi.
"It's a conspiracy and we'll also go to the people's court and answer those elements, who have targeted our leader, in the upcoming election," he said.
In Patna, Prasad's wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi said they do not accept him as guilty and she and her son would run the party in his absence "as Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are guiding the Congress".
"We do not accept him (Prasad) as guilty," Rabri, who remained inside her official residence at 10 Circular Road in the Bihar capital throughout the day, told a section of the media a little after the Central Bureau of Investigation court at Ranchi delivered its verdict.
The gates of her residence, which is only a stone's throw from that of chief minister Nitish Kumar, were closed since morning and the house wore a deserted look.
"We will go to janata ki adalat (people's court) to seek justice for the RJD president," she said, adding that her husband had fallen victim to 'opposition conspiracy'.
"The CBI and police searched our house, in-law's house and other places. But did they find any money earned out of fodder scam? Does a chief minister draw any money from treasury ? Is it not done by officials? A chief minister gets the budget passed in the assembly and does not withdraw it from the treasury himself," said Rabri Devi, who had replaced Prasad as CM in 1997 when he relinquished the post before going to jail in the fodder scam case.
She had served as the chief minister again from 1999 for about a year and then again between 2000 and 2005.
She, however, refused to name the 'conspirators', saying, "Everybody knows them."
"Leaders like Nitish Kumar and Shivanand Tiwari are in seats of power despite indulging in corruption," Rabri Devi, now a member of legislative assembly, alleged.
Senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad said the party would always stand by Prasad.
The special CBI court of Pravas Kumar Singh has set October 3 to pronounce the quantum of sentence to the former Bihar chief minister who faces a maximum of 10 years in jail.
Asked about the impact of the court order on RJD's future, Rabri Devi said she and her son would run the party in the absence of Lalu Prasad "as he had created the party and nourished it".
"As Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are guiding the Congress, which their ancestors had created, so too we will provide strength to the RJD to keep it strong," she said.
Rabri Devi has two sons Tej Pratap and Tejaswi Yadav, the younger son who had accompanied Lalu Prasad to Ranchi for the crucial court proceeding today and is being looked upon as the heir apparent.
She said Prasad had gone to jail earlier. "Then too we had overcome his loss and the party remained strong," Rabri said.
Many media personnel were politely turned away along with other visitors by security personnel deployed outside her residence.
Earlier, RJD Secretary General Ramkripal Yadav had said Rabri Devi would guide the party.
"Rabri Devi is our leader. She is there to guide us," Yadav, Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and close confidante of Lalu Prasad, told PTI.
Image: Lalu Prasad Yadav's son Tejeswi Yadav