With RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail and fined Rs 10 lakh by a special CBI court in a fodder scam case, the Bihar Congress on Saturday asserted that Lalu’s conviction will not have impact on the party's ties with the RJD in the state.
"The special court's judgement to convict and sentence Lalu Prasad will not have impact on forces fighting for secularism and social justice. Congress-RJD alliance will continue in Bihar," Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee acting president Kaukab Qadri said.
Senior Congress leader and former law minister Ashwani Kumar said the trial court's verdict was not the final decision and that he deserved bail while respecting the judicial process.
He said the trial court judgement was a part of the legal process that allowed him to appeal against it and seek bail.
"The verdict of the trial court is not the final decision on the alleged culpability of Lalu Prasad whose long record of public service cannot be discounted while respecting the judicial process," he said.
"He deserves to be enlarged on bail persistent with the principles of of our libertarian constitution according to which bail is a rule and jail an exception," he said.
Meanwhile, Lalu’s son and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said that the trial court’s decision will be challenged in the high court. A bail plea will also be moved in the high court, Tejashwi told a press conference at the residence of his mother and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi.
"Lalu is not the name of a person but of an ideology. We, his followers, will not be cowed down," said the 28-year-old Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
Tejashwi, against whom a contempt notice has been issued by the CBI court for criticizing its December 23 judgement whereby Lalu was convicted, said, "The lower court has pronounced its judgement which we respect. We have full faith in judiciary".
"We will study the judgement and then decide on what legal options to exercise," he added.
If the quantum of sentence was less than three years, thebail plea would have been moved before the trial court itself, he said.
"Since that does not appear to be the case, we will have to do so before the high court where we will also appeal against the conviction."
Tejashwi also charged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the BJP with "conspiring against Lalu, whose immense mass appeal and willingness to courageously take on communal forces have always left his detractors insecure".
On the other hand, BJP and its ally JD(U) said that no one is above the law, after the RJD said its leader has fallen prey to a "conspiracy" by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the saffron party.
BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said the verdict shows the law is equal for all.
"The court has done its job, and this is a message that if anyone robs the country of its wealth, however important, then the law is equal for all. This is justice for the people of Bihar because it was their money that was looted," Hussain told reporters.
Janata Dal (United) Secretary General K C Tyagi said a new political chapter has begun with the court's decision and it means politicians will be afraid of committing any such wrongdoing.
"It will now be difficult to keep the RJD together and people in politics will be fearful," he said, when asked about the significance of the court's verdict.
"This is the end of a chapter that started with Laluji's leadership, where there was politics of corruption, nepotism and non-governance," Tyagi told reporters.