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Lalu Yadav was first convicted in a fodder scam case on September 30, 2013, and was awarded five years’ imprisonment on October 3 that year.

RANCHI:  Bihar’s veteran politician Lalu Yadav, who was convicted in a second case of fodder scam — involving the embezzlement of more than Rs. 84.5 lakh in government funds — was given three-and-a-half-year’s jail term and a fine of Rs. 5 lakh by a special court in Bihar today.

In Patna, Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav, who held an emergency meeting to discuss the party’s strategy, said, “The judiciary performed its duty. We will go to the High Court after studying the sentence and apply for a bail”. The former Chief Minister, who was in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Jail, received his sentence through video-conference.

Lalu Yadav was convicted on December 23 for criminal conspiracy, forgery, use of forged documents and under the prevention of corruption act, sources said.  This case relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs. 84.5 lakh from the Deoghar district treasury between 1990 and 1994.

The sentencing, which was expected last week, had been deferred twice. On Wednesday, the judge said they would proceed with the arguments on the sentencing in an alphabetical order.

At the emergency meeting of the party today, Tejashwi Yadav said the people were with Lalu Yadav. “He was chosen (by the people of Bihar in an election) and he’s in jail,” said the former Deputy Chief Minister in the Grand Alliance government. Last year, Nitish Kumar dissolved his alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress and partnered with the BJP instead.

Taking a dig at the BJP, Tejashwi Yadav said, “those who had not been elected is now in government… Amit Shah was scared of Lalu-ji”.

Lalu Yadav has said his conviction was a fallout of political vengeance. After his conviction, he tweeted: “Truth can be made to appear as a lie, as ambiguous or a half lie by concerted onslaught of bias driven propaganda. But blurred layer of bias and hatred will still be removed, come what may! In end Truth will win.”

The fodder scam involved the embezzlement of more than Rs. 970 crore in government funds in the 1990s during Lalu Yadav’s term as the Chief Minister of undivided Bihar from 1990 to 1997. He has been accused in five cases of fodder scam and convicted in two.

Four years ago, Lalu Yadav was convicted in the first case of fodder scam and was given a five-year jail term. After being in jail for two months, he got bail from the Supreme Court.

The court had acquitted another former Bihar Chief Minister, Jagannath Mishra, and five others in the case. There were initially 34 accused, of whom 11 died during the trial. One admitted to the crime and turned approver. The other 15 people convicted include three former IAS officials.

With ally Hemant Soren as Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Lalu Yadav was given VIP treatment during his last jail stint in 2013. A guesthouse had been converted into a jail for him and even the chief Minister came to meet him there.

The state has a BJP government now with Raghubar Das as chief minister, who has ignored Mr Yadav’s request that he be allowed more visitors as he is a political leader. He has, however, been allowed a cook for his special diet and has access to a television and newspapers.

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