Lalu Prasad Yadav clan in Bihar is likely to face fate of Sasikala clan in Tamil Nadu

By the recent turn of events, it is almost clear that the heydays of Sasikala and her Mannargudi clan are almost over. It is difficult to predict if Sasikala, phoenix-like, will rise again to take control of the AIADMK, but, for the time being, her power play in the party has virtually come to an end. Clearly, corruption has done her and her extended family in.

Sasikala is already in jail in the disproportionate assets case, after her conviction by the trial court was upheld by the Supreme Court, overturning the decision of the Karnataka High Court. But just before the Supreme Court decision came as a bolt from the blue for her, Sasikala had taken control of both the AIADMK party as well the government; she had been elected — though the electoral process was questioned — as the general secretary of the party and the leader of its legislative wing as well; she had staked claim before the governor to be invited to be the chief minister.

But before she could be sworn in, the Supreme Court declared her guilty and she was sent to jail. Sasikala had to choose someone to nominally run the party and the government till she came out of jail after three and a half years. She could not have chosen her husband M Natarajan as he had earned the wrath of J Jayalalithaa who had expelled him and he is the most reviled man in the public eye.

But Sasikala was brazen enough to choose her nephew, TTV Dinakaran, who had also been expelled by Jayalalithaa, to warm her place as party chief during her incarceration period. In all likelihood, Sasikala would have chosen Dinakaran to head the government as well, but for the surprise revolt of O Paneerselvam, the caretaker chief minister, who had resigned the post after Sasikala was elected the legislative party leader.

Paneerselvam’s rebellion had split the party, though only a small minority of the party MLAs (less than 10 percent) had sided with him. Sasikala, despite having an overwhelming majority of MLAs on her side, did not want to take the risk of foisting Dinakaran on the government. She chose one of the loyal ministers, E Palaniswami, to become the chief minister.

(From left) File images of Tejashwi Yadav and TT Dinakaran.

(From left) File images of Tejashwi Yadav and TT Dinakaran.

Her game plan was quite clear. After Jayalalithaa's death, Sasikala did not immediately manouver to become chief minister herself; she ensured that Paneerselvam, whom Jayalalithaa had chosen as interim chief minister on two occasions when she was imprisoned, stepped in for the third time. But in two months, Sasikala consolidated her position and showed Paneeselvam the door.

It is obvious that a similar game plan was on the anvil with Dinakaran being chosen to contest the prestigious RK Nagar seat earlier represented by Jayalalithaa (Sasikala would have contested from this seat had she not been jailed); had the election gone through and if Dinakaran had won (the Election Commission cancelled the bypoll because of excessive money play; Dinakaran had apparently spent Rs 79 crore to win the Assembly election) he would have been pitchforked to the hot seat of the chief minister.

Palaniswami and his brood of ministers were acutely aware of the sinister game plan; they waited for their chance and revolted when the Delhi police announced an FIR against Dinakaran on charges of corrupt practices and his arrest looked imminent — the endgame for Sasikala and Dinakaran.

The question is: will a similar situation unfold for Lalu Yadav and his family soon?

When Lalu Yadav went to jail in the fodder scam case in 1996, he chose his illiterate wife, Rabri Devi, as his successor and as the chief minister of Bihar. He had no trouble in doing so, as there was no revolt in the party. During his various stints in and out of jail, Lalu Yadav served as the proxy chief minister of Bihar.

After his conviction in the fodder case, he was debarred from holding positions for six years. So in 2015, he chose his son, Tejashwi Yadav, who at 26 had come of age, to succeed him. Tejashwi is now the deputy chief minister of Bihar; he is young and he has a long innings in politics. But, the recent revelation of his association with a shell company to acquire a plush house in elite New Friends Colony of Delhi has brought him under a thick cloud.

It has been revealed that a company called AB Exports was constituted in 1996 with the avowed objective of doing import and export business. But it never made any business deals and it never had any employees. The only transaction it made was to buy a residential building in the trendy New Friends’ Colony in 2008 for Rs 5 crore.

It was shown that five big jewellery companies contributed Rs 1 crore each to the promoters of AB Exports to buy the house. Between 2010 and 2014, the shares of the company (AB Exports) were transferred to Tejashwi and his brother and sister were made directors. Through this shady deal, Yadav and family have become the owners of a property which is valued at Rs 50 crore at current market prices.

What puts Tejashwi Yadav in a spot is that he had not declared the ownership of this property in the affidavit submitted to the Election Commission when he contested the Assembly election in November 2015. It is likely that Tejashwi will land in jail for the dubious dealings through a shell company.

There is a striking parallel in the situation between Dinakaran and Tejashwi. Their guardians, Sasikala and Yadav, have been already indicted and imprisoned on corruption charges.

But, more importantly, both face an insurgent BJP which is on a prowl to expand its footprint across the country. Dinakaran’s plight would not have come about had the BJP government at the Centre not forced the hands of the Enforcement Directorate and the Delhi police to come down heavily to expose the shenanigans of Dinakaran.

Sasikala and Dinakaran had no public enmity with the BJP. But the BJP leadership is convinced that its best friend to make inroads into the Tamil territory is O Paneerselvam and everything it must do to help him get back to power. That explains the rapidly changing political script.

But Lalu Yadav is a sworn enemy of the BJP. The BJP would go to any length to discredit the Lalu clan. The current episode of the family’s association with a shell company and dubious acquisition of a prime property through it can clearly build up into a big scandal if the BJP government lets loose the Enforcement Directorate and Delhi police to unravel the case on a priority basis. Given the ferocity and aggression of the BJP to demolish its opponents and expand its influence, it is not unlikely.

It is possible that we would soon witness the Lalu Yadav clan go the way of Sasikala clan – drown in the corrupt cesspool of politics.

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Updated Date: Apr 19, 2017 12:08:14 IST

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