In 1996 the fodder scam surfaced and was splashed across all media in the country. Lalu Prasad Yadav was the prime accused and named in the CBI report.

The wisdom from the comic strip Peanuts is ably applied by Indian politicians. In the comic strip, Snoopy (the dog) says: There is no problem large enough that it doesn’t go away if you ignore it long enough. We are witness to this with regards to every scam in the country. No politician is ever sentenced. Take a look at any scam in which a politician is involved and you will find that it is dragging on for decades until it loses immediacy or people involved die.

In July, the Supreme Court (no less) restrained a Jharkhand court from delivering their judgement on the fodder scam. Laloo had submitted a plea expressing apprehension that the presiding judge was related to a minister in the current government and would therefore be biased against him. The Supreme Court held up this plea. So Laloo gets a reprieve and the judgement gets further delayed.

The fodder scam is a 21-year saga. It started in 1992 when a police inspector with Bihar’s anti-corruption vigilance unit, Bidhu Bhushan Dvivedi, submitted a report outlining the fodder scam. In 1996 the fodder scam surfaced and was splashed across all media in the country. Spanning many years (some reports claim two decades with high-ranking political involvement starting in the 1970s) this was a systematically executed embezzlement programme. Fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment were allegedly procured for massive herds of livestock which proved to be fictitious. The simplicity of duplicity proved to be political party agnostic and successive governments, irrespective of their political party affiliation, were complicit. The scam cut across the swathe of bureaucrats, politicians and businesses. It grew into a pretty well-organised mafia over time. The value of the scam? Approximately Rs. 900 crore.

Laloo Prasad Yadav, the then Chief Minister of Bihar was one of those named in the CBI report. The man is supposed to have said “Jab tak rahega samose mein aloo, tab tak rahega Bihar mein Laloo” had to resign from his position over this scandal in 1997. That was 16 years ago. Also accused was Jagannth Mishra, Chief Minister of Bihar first in the mid-1970s. He is the earliest Chief Minister accused of knowing involvement in the scam.

Sixteen years thence, the case limps on. From a single state, Bihar has become two states: Bihar and Jharkhand. The scam is now being tried in two states, since different areas from both were involved. It is rumoured that the thieving hasn’t abated. It alleged is still going on and may have even increased in size and volume. Laloo and Mishra are both at large. Laloo is in fact seemingly gaining popularity as the 2014 general elections approach. If not the government, he is very likely to be the main opposition in the state. If Laloo regains political muscle, it is very unlikely that the case is going to be concluded any time soon. (Kanimozhi, one of the prime accused in the 2G Spectrum Scam , was back in the Rajya Sabha in June 2013. As of now she is asking that all charges against her be dropped)

No problem large enough…

Random fact: Laloo Prasad Yadav is the only person on whom the Lok Sabha debated for a complete session as the official agenda.

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