Laloo's fate sealed, legal experts assure Gujral
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Union law ministry officials have assured Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral there is no way Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav can avoid prosecution in the fodder scam.
Following Laloo Yadav's refusal to resign from his post, Gujral had sought legal opinion. "It is a matter of time before the needed sanction is obtained (from the President)" the experts are reported to have said. None of the involved, including Union Rural Areas and Employment Minister Chandra Deo Prasad Verma, could escape being prosecuted. However, granting the sanction was President Shankar Dayal Sharma's prerogative, they added.
United Front leaders pointed out that Bihar Governor A R Kidwai has assured them the fodder case will be handled in accordance to the Constitution, and there was no cause for any apprehension.
Laloo Yadav's softened stance regarding Janata Dal working president Sharad Yadav and Gujral follows Union Railway Minister Ram Vilas Paswan's success in creating a division in the Bihar unit of the party, sources say. On Tuesday, Paswan had gone to Patna, ostensibly to study the damage done to the Patna-Danaapur railway section by extremists. However, he is understood to have enlisted Bihar ministers Ramai Ram and Pashupati Nath Paras in the remove-Laloo-campaign, unleashed by the UF leaders at the Centre. The two have assured Paswan the support of about 25 JD legislators.
The spectre of more legislators joining the anti-Laloo campaign is what has made the chief minister come down from his earlier aggressive stance. That, and the opinion of a battery of legal luminaries he has a very weak case which his continuing refusal to quit is weakening further.
UF leaders, for their part, say Laloo Yadav's refusal to step down come what may is the result of ''panic and nothing else."
Meanwhile, ambitious partymen hoping to replace the chief minister are carrying out a campaign against him on a war footing. Despite his denials, Paswan himself appears to be a frontrunner in the game -- with Laloo Yadav out of the way, he stands a good chance to take over as the state chief minister, especially with dalit support.
Equally hopeful is Sharad Yadav who is counting on the inevitability of Laloo Yadav's exit. As the politician closest to the chief minister, he feels he would be recommended for the job.
If it comes to that, Laloo Yadav would, naturally, prefer to have his own man in office -- and that Sharad Yadav is.