There’s undoubtedly a sizable number of people in Bihar and elsewhere who believe that Lalu was held guilty by the CBI court in the fodder scams because he belonged to a Backward Yadav caste. They press the argument that this backward caste leader was trying with a missionary zeal to secure “social justice” to the millions coming from the lower strata of the humanity. “The feudal-Manuwadi upper castes couldn’t swallow his rise,” they assert.
“Manuwadi” is a reference to the Manusmriti, an ancient scripture that believed in a strict caste hierarchy and the author, Manu, allegedly prescribed cruel punishments to those members of Dalits (the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) who tried to imitate education, rituals and practices of the higher castes.
Although Manusmriti isn’t followed in India; proven caste discrimination is punishable by law and denounced by all, the term “Manuwadi” is used as an epithet to discredit any member of the upper castes trying to make a point. There are, however, right-wing fanatic Hindus -- like extremist fundamentalists in any faith -- believing in the ancient imaginary Hindu caste hierarchy.
Following the verdict of 23 December 2017, the spokespersons of the RJD were quick to allege that Jagannath Mishra, a Brahman, was acquitted whereas Lalu, a Yadav, was convicted in the same case of financial embezzlement. They imply that the CBI judge, being a Manuwadi, must have discriminated against Lalu because of the latter’s lower caste birth.
These hangers-on or favor-seekers disguised as leaders don’t tell their people that on 30 September 2013, Jagannath Mishra along with Lalu Yadav and several others had been convicted in another case involving illegal withdrawal of 37.7 crore rupees from Chaibasa Treasury in the early 1990s.
The latest was, thus, the second conviction in what had become infamously popular as Chara Ghotala (the fodder scam).
The RJD spokespersons also don’t bring to the fore honestly the set of facts that in the latest Deoghar decision, there were 34 accused, of which 11 died during the pendency of the case, one admitted to the crime and turned CBI approver. If truthful, they should have told their cadre or sympathizers that the law and justice had finally prevailed. The CBI, after painstakingly weighing evidence and having gone through a protracted trial, convicted the accused who belonged to an assortment of castes or socio-economic backgrounds.
According to the reports, besides Lalu Prasad, the court convicted political leaders Jagdish Sharma and R K Rana, IAS officers Beck Julius, Phoolchand Singh and Mahesh Prasad, and government officials Krishna Kumar and Subir Bhattacharya. Among others were Tripurari Mohan Prasad, Sushil Kumar Sinha, Sunil Kumar Sinha, Raja Ram Joshi, Gopinath Das, Sanjay Agarwal, Jyoti Kumar Jha and Sunil Gandhi -- mostly suppliers or transporters.
On the other hand, among the acquitted in this case were an 80 year old former Brahman Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra as also a former Backward caste (Mallah, fisherman) RJD minister, Vidya Sagar Nishad. The four others exonerated were: former Public Accounts Committee chairman Dhruv Bhagat, former Indian Revenue Service officer A C Choudhary, fodder suppliers Saraswati Chandra and Sadhana Singh.
Thus, how could this be proven even prima facie that the CBI court had singled out Lalu because he was a backward or a Social Justice missionary?
The backward-forward caste arguments advanced by Lalu, his family members and the sycophants are bogus and fabricated as an eyewash to mislead the credulous people in the backward community. Many educated enlightened members of the OBCs must see the point.
To be sympathetic to the Lalu’s side, it seems to be a fair argument when they say the decision of the CBI court wasn’t final and could be challenged in the Higher Courts -- in Patna or Delhi.
Tejaswi has repeatedly claimed before television cameras that in the Disproportionate Assets case they had defeated the CBI whose findings were turned down by the Patna High court and the Supreme court. His family had, therefore, come out clean. The same fate, he predicts, awaited the latest fodder scam verdicts.
It should be remembered, however, that in 1996, the Patna High Court had ordered a CBI inquiry into the fodder scam cases and a charge sheet in the Deoghar treasury case was filed on 27 October 1997.
The CBI special court seems to have conducted its business very carefully.
In the meantime, Tejaswi, who is not only a member of the Lalu clan but also the leader of the opposition in Bihar, has also to deal with benami land-transfer and money-laundering (corruption) cases slapped against himself and his MP sister.
Sadly, because of the misdeeds of his father, he will have to go a long way to prove it was all because of the machinations of the Manuwadis against a “social justice” messiah.
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.