Railway Minister Lalu
Yadav's legal troubles are translating into trouble for the UPA coalition
is India News Service
26 April 2005
Yesterday we wrote about Lalu’s
new legal travails, and how he is diverting all attention from his misdeeds
by posturing as the secular answer to the BJP’s Hindutva politics.
The news today is that his trouble has translated into trouble for the UPA
government at the Centre. Being one of the union cabinet’s most visible
ministers, his court appearances in cases of criminal misappropriation of funds
will now mean a lot of negative publicity for the ruling dispensation.
On Monday, within hours of
Lalu being chargesheeted, the issue rocked Parliament as the BJP-led Opposition
vociferously demanded that he be dismissed from the cabinet, forcing
adjournments of both the Houses. While proceedings in the Lok Sabha were stalled
repeatedly, the Rajya Sabha was interrupted thrice before being finally
adjourned for the day.
The government is saying the chargesheet is no conviction and hence the railway
minister will stay on. “Just because charges have been framed against him,
there is no justification for his dismissal,” Law Minister Bhardwaj told
reporters in the national capital.
“When somebody becomes an MP, he is qualified to become a minister. A minister
can be disqualified only when he incurs some disqualification,” Bhardwaj said,
adding: “Just because charges are framed, one does not become eligible for
disqualification. Disqualification is post conviction.”
Lalu has found allies in the Left. Criticising the opposition for disrupting
Parliament "time and again", the CPI-M said on Monday that this had
prevented important statements of the day from being read out by the home
minister and the railway minister on the Sabarmati train accident, and the
attack on Lalu in Vadodara.
CPI-M leader Nilotpal Basu
said although his party did not hold any brief for anybody, the judicial process
should be allowed to reach its logical conclusion.
The special CBI court of Uma Shankar Prasad Sinha in Ranchi on Monday framed
charges against 70 accused, including Lalu and former Bihar chief minister
Jagannath Mishra, in a fodder scam case.
Meanwhile, in Patna, Bihar Chief Secretary K A H Subramaniam on Monday claimed
that the vigilance inquiry “he ordered” would “deal with the diversion of
funds from one account to another made by former Patna DM Gautam Goswami.”
That has been another
sidelight to the Lalu drama. In a scandal involving the siphoning off of funds
meant for flood relief, a high profile district magistrate is now under cloud
for the disappearance of flood relief funds. The flood scam was exposed by The
Indian Express on Sunday. Some Rs 17 crore has gone missing in this case.
Vigilance DG A R Sinha said he has not received any orders for inquiry though
Subramaniam said he ordered a vigilance inquiry one month ago. Clearly,
something is missing from the picture, and everything seems to confirm the
disillusioned public view that it is all dirty politics.
After avoiding the media for two days, Subramaniam met reporters at 5 pm. But he
wanted only to talk about the diversion of funds and not the scam of siphoning
off Rs 17 crore flood relief funds. Diversion of funds from one account to
another is a common practice in the government in times of emergency and hardly
a matter of inquiry, say IAS officers. “When the allotments come, we reinstate
the funds,” said a district magistrate.
While there may be arguments for and against Lalu in this particular case, let
us not forget that his party has been voted out of power in the state he
or misruled, for a record 15 years.
He is now managing to pull on politically only because the UPA coalition
government in Delhi is still at his mercy. The end may have come for
who clowned his way into the people’s hearts, and then betrayed them
consistently while the rest of India marched on.
For Bihar Chief Secretary, missing Rs 17 cr is 'a side issue', The New Indian
CBI charges Laloo in fodder scam, Deccan Herald
3. Opposition has double
standards: Left, Financial Express
4. India’s ruling alliance heading for trouble, Asian Tribune