Ranchi: In a stunning setback for Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his flailing Lalu-Rabri-Misa-Tej Pratap-Tejaswi empire that made them Bihar's one of the wealthiest politicians, a CBI court in Ranchi on Saturday found him guilty in the Rs. 85 lakh embezzlement case involving Deoghar Treasury that occurred under his watch between 1991 and 1994.
CBI Special Court Judge Shivpal Singh, in a jam-packed court, read the verdict convicting Yadav and 15 others while acquitting former Bihar Chief Minister and the then Congress leader Jagannath Mishra in the same case.
Yadav and all other convicts were immediately taken to the jail where they will await court's ruling on sentencing on January 3.
The RJD chief who was accompanied by his younger son and former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Tejaswi Yadav appeared stunned when the court held him guilty in the corruption case following the acquittal of six others before him.
As the six men, heaving a collective sigh of relief on their acquittal, made a move out of the witness box, Yadav appeared certain of his acquittal as well only to be taken aback by an unfavorable court decision. It took him about a minute to gather his composure after his lawyer explained to him that he indeed stood convicted.
The former Chief Minister of Bihar, who is no stranger to convictions in similar cases leading to incarceration in the past, murmured that he would appeal the verdict in the High Court as he was led to the jail by the local police.
It may be recalled that Yadav was previously convicted in the fodder scam in 2013. He spent nearly two months in a Ranchi Jail before getting a bail from the Supreme Court.
Today's case relates to misappropriation of Rs. 85 lakh from the Deoghar Treasury, then a part of undivided Bihar, between 1991 and 1994 when Yadav was both the Chief Minister and Finance Minister of Bihar. He was accused of burying files of corruption for 16 months while continuing to extend the services of others who were part of the corruption network installed by him at the time.
Yadav's second conviction came on the same day when the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed charges of money-laundering against his daughter and MP Misa Bharti.
Tejaswi Yadav, who was hand-picked by the RJD chief to lead the party in his absence, also stunned by the verdict, called it a 'tragedy of errors'.
Party spokesperson Manoj Jha played the 'backward' card saying Yadav was the victim of a conspiracy hatched by the upper caste leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"Lalu Yadav has to go to jail because he is from the backward community," said Jha.
Just hours prior to the verdict, Yadav told the reporters that he had full trust in the judiciary and he will not allow BJP to succeed in its conspiracies against him and his family.
Later, someone using Yadav's Twitter account tweeted: "Truth can be made to appear as a lie, as ambiguous or a half lie by concerted onslaught of bias driven propaganda. But blurred layer of bias and hatred will still be removed, come what may! In end Truth will win."
The worse, however, may not be over for the RJD chief as there are three other pending cases against him involving a range of corruption charges.