Rabri Devi to address a meeting of senior leaders on October 6

The Rashtriya Janata Dal put up a brave front on Thursday after its chief Lalu Prasad was jailed for five years in a fodder scam case. The party said he was the victim of a political conspiracy by the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The former Bihar Chief Minister and Mr. Prasad’s wife, Rabri Devi, said the family would appeal against the verdict in a higher court. She will address party leaders at a meeting scheduled at her residence for October 6.

“Mr. Prasad has fallen prey to a political conspiracy. [Chief Minister] Nitish Kumar [of the Janata Dal (United)] and the BJP have played a key role in this. We will expose their collusion before the people. The person [Mr. Prasad] who ordered 45 FIRs to be filed in the case is in jail and those who took money are free. Rabri Devi will go to the people to highlight these facts. We are still hopeful of getting relief from the High Court and the Supreme Court,” senior RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav told reporters at Ms. Rabri Devi’s residence.

Ms. Rabri Devi and the rest of the family were “mentally prepared” for the sentence, he said.

“We all were expecting such a sentence. Laluji is paying the price for standing up for the poor, the Backward Classes and Dalits. The party stands by him. We have not been demoralised, nor has our leader. Laluji was, is and will be our leader,” Mr. Ram Kripal Yadav said.

RJD leaders said the key fodder scam accused, the late S.B. Sinha, who was Regional Director of the Animal Husbandry Department, had given a statement under Sections 161 and 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and in it, he was said to have claimed that he had paid “a handsome amount” to Mr. Kumar and other JD(U) leaders Shivanand Tiwari and Lallan Singh. The party vowed to raise this issue. The Jharkhand High Court has asked the CBI to file a reply on this count.

Besides Mr. Ram Kripal Yadav, RJD leaders Veena Shahi, Alok Mehta, Raghunath Jha and Kiran Rai visited Mr. Prasad’s family. However, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Prabhunath Singh, Jagdanand Singh and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh did not. Party spokespersons said they were out of Patna.

Mr. Jha dismissed concerns about the party falling apart. “Indira Gandhi won after she went to jail. Laluji is also going to bounce back.”