Ranchi: Despite being sentenced to 3.5 years in prison only four days ago, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s cheeky humour has not been dented.
Lalu engaged in light humour with even special CBI judge, Shivpal Singh, who passed his sentence, before attending the proceedings for the Dumka treasury case.
The conversation that followed made everyone, present in the courtroom, laugh briefly according to witnesses present on the spot.
On being asked if he was facing problems in jail, Lalu said that jail authorities are not letting him meet his party (RJD) leaders or allowing other visitors.
To this, CBI Judge Shivpal Singh replied that visitors will only be allowed following the jail manual, adding that Lalu should move to the open jail at Hazaribagh, about 150 km from Ranchi.
Lalu shot back immediately and invoked the rule-book, saying the open jail was for naxals and only those above 60 years and sentenced to more than 5 years in prison can go there. “You cannot send anyone without his consent,” the 69-year-old Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief added.
The jail was opened in 2013 for naxals, convicts or undertrials, who are seen open to the idea of giving up weapons and returning to the mainstream. They can stay with their family in one of the 100 cottages built for them, earn a living and even pick up a skill or two during their prison stay.
This is not the first time Lalu has underlined the fact that apart from being a political leader, he is also a lawyer and registered to practice even at the Supreme Court.
“There will be genocide if the (party) workers are stopped in open jail. All the 20,000 policemen in Jharkhand will have to be deployed in the security,” Lalu said, to which Singh replied that there will be no such incident.
“Go to an open jail and you can keep waving (to your supporters from a distance) through the day,” the CBI Special Judge said.
Yadav also complained of being treated like a “common prisoner,” in reply to which Singh asserted that the law will treat everyone equally.
With Makar Sankranti approaching, Yadav rued that this time he will not be able to have dahi-chura.
“We will have dahi-chura here itself. I will order it if you say,” the judge replied.
Lalu’s response was witty. “No sir, this is a thing of the Yadavs. If I eat dahi-chura with you, I might end up in a problem like Syed Shahabuddin of Siwan,” he said, as the court room burst into laughter.
Since the Dumka treasury case has a similar set of evidence as the Deoghar case, Lalu is already expecting conviction.
He tried to convince Singh to give him a shorter sentence this time.
Rahul Gandhi did not take stand against corruption when it mattered in Bihar: Nitish
Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Tuesday attributed his sudden exit from the opposition alliance to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s “inability” to take a stand on corruption charges against his former deputy and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Kumar, who also heads the JD(U), claimed that his party was instrumental in the Congress getting 40 seats to contest in the 2015 assembly polls.
The chief minister said he had felt let down by Gandhi, then the party’s vice-president, when he “did not come up with even a statement that could have made me have second thoughts (about leaving the alliance)”.
Kumar had quit the alliance, comprising the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress, in July 2017 after the CBI lodged an FIR against Yadav on corruption charges and the following strife between him and the RJD.
“It has been always my line that there will be no compromise on crime, corruption and communalism. Their (RJD’s) style of functioning was such that it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to work. There was interference at all levels. Their people would telephone police stations with their own decrees,” Kumar claimed.
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“Rahul Gandhi had famously tore that ordinance. It was the JD(U) which insisted that it (Congress) be given 40 seats and they ended up winning 28. The RJD, despite its old association with it, was never ready to give it that much weightage,” Kumar said.
In 2003, Gandhi had torn an ordinance brought by the Manmohan Singh government with a provision to protect convicted politicians against disqualification.
Stating that he resigned as he had no other choice, Kumar said his resignation was immediately followed by an offer of support from the BJP. “So I took the decision (to join hands with the BJP) in the interests of Bihar,” he said.
“We have our differences on issues like Ayodhya, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code since the 1990s. My association with the BJP predates the NDA’s formation in 1999. But we have always worked amicably. Even now, we are getting full cooperation from the Narendra Modi government,” he said.
Kumar had snapped ties with the BJP in 2013 following differences over projection of Narendra Modi, the then Gujarat chief minister, as the prime ministerial candidate.
On a query about the RSS, he said, “I may not agree with their thoughts but I cannot help admiring their consistency and commitment towards organisation building, something those adhering to our socialist ideology never excelled at.”
Recalling the stupendous performances by the JD(U)-BJP combine in 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the assembly elections a year later, Kumar said, “Now we have an important leader like Ram Vilas Paswanwith us. So there is no reason why we should not do even better in the upcoming LS polls.”
On the opposition ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance), which comprises the RJD, the Congress, the RLSP, the HAM and some smaller parties, he said, “Even the term mahagathbandhan that they keep flaunting was given by me. After the exit of JD(U), it is just a gathbandhan (alliance)”.
KCR’s son meets Jaganmohan Reddy, discusses ‘proposed’ federal front
Hyderabad: Continuing his efforts to forge a non-BJP, non-Congress front ahead of the coming Lok Sabha polls, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao decided to hold talks with YSR Congress to try and rope it into the proposed coalition.
K Chandrasekhar Rao’s son KT Rana Rao met Jaganmohan Reddy in Hyderabad to invite his YSR Congress party to join federal front.
Reddy is the Leader of Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh assembly.
These talks are the first direct conversation between the leaders of two parties since KCR floated the idea of a front as an alternation to the BJP and the Congress.
TRS’s chief KCR has already held talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Janata Dal (United) leader HD Deve Gowda, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and DMK leader MK Stalin.
KCR winning for a second straight term after his party’s election victory in last month’s state polls, Rao amped up his efforts towards federal front for 2019 polls due in May.
The TRS is likely to discuss with Reddy the possibility of working together in Andhra to defeat a common enemy – Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his party Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Massive protests at Sabarimala after 2 women try to enter shrine
Thiruvananthapuram: Massive protests broke out near the Sabarimala temple in Kerala on Wednesday morning after two women in their 30s tried to trek up to the shrine.
The women were identified as Reshma and Sanila, residents of Kannur, covered almost half of the 5.5 km trek to the shrine but were intercepted by angry devotees. They used started trekking at 5 am to dodge the protesters.
As the situation turned tense, police plead helplessness saying it is beyond their control. Later, women were taken to Pambha, the base camp after they were blocked for two hours.
The two women are part of a nine-member group who were on their way to the temple.
Kanaka Durga, along with 40-year-old Bindu Ammini, are the first women below 50 in decades to enter the hilltop shrine. Durga was attacked by her relatives on her return home on Monday.
The Supreme Court in September last year allowed women of all ages to worship at the Sabarimala shrine, overturning a centuries-old ban on women of childbearing age from entering the temple.