Patna (Bihar), December 23, 2017 Journalists covering the fodder scam, also known as the animal husbandry scam, since January 1996 or February 1996, when none else but the then chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav ordered the lodging of the first FIR are witness to many twists and turns in the last 22 years.
Firstly it needs to be made amply clear that the first illegal withdrawal was made not after Lalu Prasad became the chief minister on March 10, 1990. It actually took place in 1977.
In the first six months of 1977 Dr Jagannath Mishra was the chief minister of Bihar while after the rout of the Congress in June Karpoori Thakur became the chief minister, of the Janata Party. Kailashpati Mishra, who later became a top BJP leader, was the finance minister.
Karpoori Thakur was succeeded by Ram Sundar Das also of the Janata Party, in April 1979.
However, when Congress returned to power after the mid-term poll in Bihar in early 1980 Dr Mishra again became the chief minister. He was soon succeeded by four more Congress CMs. But after the infamous Bhagalpur riots and the coming to power of V P Singh at the Centre in December 1989 Dr Mishra became the chief minister for the third and the last time.
Four months later the Congress party was voted out of power and Lalu became the chief minister.
But incidentally, name of none of the half a dozen other chief ministers figured in the scam.
The scam was ‘unearthed’ by the Lalu Prasad government itself and that too just days after he became the national president of his party Janata Dal. He was considered as the kingmaker when he helped H D Deve Gowda become the prime minister on June 1, 1996.
Though it was the Congress government at the Centre in early 1996, it was the BJP and the then Samata Party leaders in Bihar who exploited the situation in their favour. It was they who moved the court.
It needs to be recalled that in 1990 a Hindi daily from Ranchi, Prabhat Khabar, carried about 70 stories on irregularities and embezzlements going on in the animal husbandry department. Then Harivansh, who is the Rajya Sabha MP of Janata Dal (United), was its editor.
That was six years before the scam was actually unearthed.