What is fodder scam and how Lalu Prasad's wife became CM

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New Delhi, Sept 30: RJD chief and former chief minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad was convicted in a 16-year-old fodder scam by a designated CBI court in Ranchi on Monday.

About the fodder scam:

The scam involved fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 950 crore of public money from the treausries of Chaibasa in undivided Bihar under the head of the animal husbandry department in the early 1990s. The money was withdrawn on the basis on fake bills and vouchers for buying fodder and medicine for livestock by the animal husbandry officials in connivance with traders and top officials and politicians across the party lines.

When did the fodder scam first appear?

The CAG first spoke about the anomalies. It said in its annual reports of four fiscals from 1992-93, to 1995-96 about the excessive withdrawal from the treasuries. The then Lalu Prasad government reportedly kept the reports under cover and the scam surfaced when the deputy commissioner of West Singhbhum district, Amit Khare, was the first to follow up on the CAG reports on the fraudulent withdrawal. The first FIR was lodged on January 24, 1996, and the case was numbered RC-20A/1996 when it took over the investigation in March that year.

About the case

The CBI lodged 54 cases in connection with the fodder scam. They were first lodged with the CBI's regional office in Patna, the capital of Bihar, and also a bench of the Patna High Court. After the division of Bihar in November 2000, 52 of those cases were transferred to the CBI court in Ranchi, the capital of the newly formed Jharkhand, with a bench of Jharkhand High Court monitoring them. Two cases were left in Bihar and they were the disproportionate assets case and that pertaining to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 40 lakh from the Bhagalpur treasury.

The courts have disposed of 45 out of 54 cases till May this year.

Key accused in the case:

Shyam Bihari Sinha, the leave reserve officer in the animal husbandry department in Ranchi is the key accused who figured in all 54 cases. About 510 of the 600-plus accused have been convicted in all the cases.

Besides Lalu Prasad, former chief minister Jagannath Mishra, former animal husbandry ministers Vidyasagar Nishad and Chandradeo Prasad Verma, JD(U) MP Jagdish Sharma, BJP leader Dhruv Bhagat and former RJD MP RK Rana were also among the accused.

Why did Lalu Prasad has to resign as the chief minister of Bihar?

The CBI court took cognisance of the chargesheet filed by the agency and a non-bailable warrant was issued against, after the then Bihar Governor, AR Kidwai gave his nod. The then prime minister, I K Gujral also hinted at Lalu's resignation but it was ignored. The then CBI joint director, Upen Biswas, now a minister in West Bengal, reportedly sought the army's help to arrest Lalu Prasad. On July 25, 1997, Prasad's official residence was surrounded by paramilitary forces. The apex court intervened but he had to go to jail. Prasad met his MLAs on the day and announced his wife Rabri Devi as the new chief minister.

(with inputs from The Telegraph)

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