Uproar in House as Lalu charged in scam

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, April 25:

Parliament was in turmoil today over Railway Minister Lalu Prasad being charged in the Rs.9.5

billion Bihar fodder scam, with the opposition demanding he immediately resign. Both houses were stalled over the issue. While the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till after the lunch recess as an insistent opposition pressed for Lalu Prasad’s resignation, arguments between the opposition and ruling party MPs disrupted proceedings in the Lok Sabha and forced a brief adjournment. “A union minister who is charged with corruption cannot continue in the government. The PM should dismiss him,” thundered Vijay Kumar Malhotra, deputy leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha, speaking to reporters outside the house. Members of Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) countered with protests against the alleged attack on the minister in Gujarat while he was visiting the victims of a train accident.

The Lok Sabha was adjourned for a while after RJD MPs stormed the speaker’s podium and raised slogans against Gujarat’s BJP government, blaming it for the attack on Lalu Prasad. The uproar continued even when the house met after 15 minutes. An anguished Speaker Somnath Chatterjee lamented: “Behaviour on the streets is better than what is happening here.”

Earlier today, the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) demanded that Lalu Prasad

be dismissed from the cabinet following his being charged in the fodder scam. The NDA

decided to expose “the falsehood being spread by the railway minister against the Gujarat government over the alleged attack on him in Gujarat last week”. Charges were also framed against former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, former MP Rajo Singh, former Bihar animal husbandry minister Vidyasagar Nishad, former central minister Chandradeo Prasad Verma, four bureaucrats of the Indian Administrative Service, veterinary doctors and other government officials. There are 20 truckloads of documents in the case. Almost a decade after the scam was unearthed, Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge Umashankar Prasad Sinha framed charges in case No RC 68A/96. This relates to allegedly fraudulent withdrawals between 1990 and 1995 by the animal husbandry department of over Rs.370 million, ostensibly for the purchase of fodder, from the Chaibasa treasury, now part of Jharkhand.