Ranchi/Patna, Dec 16: RJD chief and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad, jailed 76 days ago in the fodder scandal, Monday walked out of Ranchi’s prison on bail Monday — and prepared to return to Bihar Tuesday.
The joy in Lalu Prasad’s household in Patna was, however, muted because of the death of a relative two days ago. But that did not prevent party supporters from saying that their leader would get a grand reception as he reaches Patna.
“I have faith in the judiciary,” a relieved Lalu Prasad told the media after coming out of the Birsa Munda Central Jail in the Jharkhand capital.
He made light of his stay in prison, saying even Lord Krishna was born in captivity.
A former leading light of the Congress-led UPA, Lalu Prasad appealed — obviously with the Bharatiya Janata Party in mind — to political parties to keep “communal forces” at bay.
From the jail, the politician went to the Deori temple on the outskirts of Ranchi, about 50 km away, and offered prayers to Goddess Durga.
This is the same temple where Indian cricket captain M.S. Dhoni visits.
The Supreme Court granted Lalu Prasad bail last week.
Along with another former chief minister Jagannath Mishra, Janata Dal-United MP Jagdish Sharma and others, Lalu Prasad was convicted of illegally withdrawing Rs.37.70 crore from the Chaibasa treasury in 1994-95 when he was the Bihar chief minister.
On Monday, he was released on two sureties each of Rs 25,000. He will have to take the court’s permission to leave the country.
His aides said Lalu Prasad will spend Monday night in Ranchi. He will go to Patna by road.
In Patna, Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi was elated.
“The family had been waiting for this moment,” senior RJD leader Veena Sahi said. “But there were no big celebrations because a close relative of Lalu Prasad died two days ago.”
Another RJD leader, Chandeshwar Prasad, said weeks of gloom had finally lifted.
“RJD leaders and workers are again gathering at the party office. Things will change for the RJD in the coming days.”
Former RJD legislator Anwar Ahmad said hundreds of party leaders and workers from across Bihar would welcome Lalu Prasad when he reaches Patna Tuesday afternoon or evening.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar refused to comment on Lalu Prasad’s release.
“It is not a part of a political process. It is purely a court decision,” he said.
“I did not comment when he was convicted and granted bail. Now that he has been released, I have nothing to say.”
Nitish Kumar insisted that Lalu Prasad’s release would not have any impact on Bihar politics.
Lalu Prasad was convicted Sep 30 and sentenced to five years imprisonment Oct 3 last year.
Lalu Prasad is facing trial in four more fodder scam cases in CBI courts of Ranchi.