Fodder Scam Case: Lalu Yadav who was arrested last month is sentenced to 3.5 years. (File)
Ranchi: Bihar's veteran politician Lalu Yadav, who was convicted in a second case of fodder scam -- involving the embezzlement of more than Rs. 89 lakh in government funds -- was given three-and-a-half-year's jail term and a fine of Rs 10 lakh by a special court in Ranchi today. It is unclear whether the 69-year-old will be able to walk out of jail in the near future. In Patna, Mr Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav, who held an emergency strategy meet with the leaders of his Rashtriya Janata Dal, said, "The judiciary has performed its duty. We will go to the High Court after studying the sentence and apply for a bail". The former Chief Minister, who is in Ranchi's Birsa Munda Jail, received his sentence through video-conference.
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Lalu Yadav's lawyers had argued for the shortest jail term - 3 years - in view of his health. A sentence of three years or less would have made him eligible for bail from the special court.
Lalu Yadav has said his conviction is the result of political vendetta. After the sentencing, Lalu Yadav tweeted: "Rather than practising BJP's Simple Rule - "Follow us or We will Fix you". I will die happily fixing myself for Social justice, harmony & equality."
Lalu Yadav was convicted on December 23 for criminal conspiracy, forgery, use of forged documents and under the Prevention of Corruption Act, sources said. This case relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89 lakh from the Deoghar district treasury between 1990 and 1994.
Tejashwi Yadav said, "He was chosen (by the people) and he's in jail... those who had not been elected is now in government... Amit Shah was scared of Lalu-ji." The former Deputy Chief Minister is in the opposition after Nitish Kumar dissolved his alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress and partnered with the BJP.
The BJP immediately hit back. Party spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "His ego of social justice has been exposed. It is because of social injustice that he's in jail". Senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said, "Bihar's people have finally got justice".
The sentencing, which was expected last week, had been deferred twice. On Wednesday, the judge said they would proceed with the arguments on the sentencing in an alphabetical order.
The fodder scam involved the embezzlement of more than Rs. 970 crore in government funds during Lalu Yadav's term as the Chief Minister of undivided Bihar from 1990 to 1997.The accused allegedly invented vast herds of livestock to obtain public money for fodder and medicines for them.
Lalu Yadav has now been convicted in two of the five cases of fodder scam. Four years ago, he was convicted in the first case and was given a five-year jail term. After being in jail for two months, he got bail from the Supreme Court.
With ally Hemant Soren as Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Lalu Yadav was given VIP treatment during his last stint in jail - a converted guesthouse, where even the Chief Minister came to meet him.