Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 Feb 2018 12:40:01

CLIPPING LALU’S WINGSTHERE is a lesson for bureaucratsfrom the exemplaryhonest life a civil servantcan lead despite politicalpressure and risk to life.Corruption can be eliminated if a topcivil servant doesn’t succumb to pressureto toe the line of political masterswho indulge in corrupt practicesto make money.

For example, almostthree decades ago, a frail bureaucratin Patna told Lalu Prasad Yadav, thenthe Chief Minister of Bihar, that hewould be probed for his allegedinvolvement in a case involving fictitiouslivestock. The charges were serious,and in 1991, the case looked likethe proverbial tip of the iceberg.Yadav, then a very powerful politicianwith Prime Ministerial ambitionsand marauding powers, cared twohoots. He did not even budge. Heknew he was not meant to answerMurari Nand Tiwary, then 56 and theChief Income Tax Commissioner ofBihar. The fodder scam, arguablyBihar’s biggest scandal, was eventuallypegged at around Rs. 900 crore.Interestingly, when it first unfolded,it was an innocuous auditor’s reportwhich traced discrepancies in expensesby the Bihar Government. In theimpoverished State where cash is routinelylooted from the treasury andfake bills offered to settle accounts,this one also looked like one of those.Twenty-six years later, weeks afterTiwary breathed his last in the nationalcapital, the former Bihar ChiefMinister—now in a Ranchi jail—gothis second sentence in the fodderscam. In the latest judgement, SpecialCBI court judge S S Prasad convictedYadav for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs33.67 crore from Chaibasa treasury in1992-1993. Former Bihar CMJagannath Mishra was also foundguilty and awarded a five-year jailterm for embezzling funds from theChaibasa treasury.

Both Yadav andMishra were also fined Rs 5 lakh eachby the Ranchi court.The allegation is that fake allotmentletters were used to withdraw Rs 33.67crore, instead of the State sanctionedamount of Rs 7.10 lakh.Yadav was firstconvicted in a fodder scam case in2013 and was awarded five years’imprisonment. He faces another twoscam cases for illegal withdrawal ofRs 3.97 crore from the DumkaTreasuryand Rs 184 crore from the DorandaTreasury. Tiwary, who was followingdevelopments unfolding in the fodderscam, said he was happy that thecorrupt was brought to justice. “Thisis the power of an honest bureaucrat,he is meant to stop corruption andpunish the corrupt,” Tiwary told hisassociates in Delhi days before hisdeath on December 28, 2017. But 26years ago, Bihar was under the vicelikegrip of Yadav and his men, bothpowerful and lethal. The CM and hiscoterie could virtually do anything.There were countless newspaperreports on how his gunslingers wouldkidnap people for ransom—it eventriggered a Bollywood movie—andkill rivals, even shift trains to the platformof their choice because onceinside a station they would not budge.Tiwary was aware of Yadav’s power,but refused to stop the investigationsinto the scam. He knew Yadavwas not just powerful in the State butalso at the Centre. Yadav’s party wasan important ally in the shaky, 14-partycoalition Government headed byPM Inder Kumar Gujral.

Worse,Yadav,a self-styled champion of the lowcastes,had twice put his name forwardfor PM, losing each time. Yet, heand his party played a key role in alldecisions taken by the coalitionGovernment. Considerably weak dueto old-age ailments, Tiwary told hisfriends how he and his men, in 1992,led one of the first raids on thoseallegedly involved in the scam. Theraids were conducted all over Biharand other neighbouring States. “Theway he (Y adav) and his men wentabout stealing cash from the treasury,it seemed like daylight robbery.Yadavand his men fudged vouchers to fillthe books of accounts. It was bizarre,scooters were shown as trucks ferryingthe fodder,” he recollected.The cash, reported to have beenstolen over nearly 20 years, came fromagricultural support programmes forthe poor.“Will truth in all its manifestationsever see the light of the day? Howfrightening it will be and what toll itwill take only future will tell,” Tiwarywrote in 2004 in his book, ‘Travails ofa Civil Servant.’ Tiwary and his menprobed meticulously how politiciansand senior State Government officialsin Bihar invented phantom livestockherds, then made fraudulent paymentsfor fodder and medicine for theanimals, as well as for artificial inseminationequipment. ‘Travails of a CivilServant’ detailed the pressuresTiwaryendured during his stay in Bihar. Thetome’s first print run was of 200 copies,but was pulled back from the printersfor fear of reprisal fromYadav, whoTiwary considered “a ruthless politician.”The book documented Tiwary’sinteractions with Yadav, and his powerfulCabinet Ministers.

A few yearsafter the scandal shook India, Tiwaryretired from service and joined as amember of the SettlementCommission in Kolkata. He told hismen to fight till last. Tiwary livedthrough extremely troubled times.Every now and then, cops came to hishouse saying they had orders from theCM to take the Income Tax ChiefCommissioner to CM’s residence for“work that was never explained.”Often, armed men in open jeepsparked themselves outside Tiwary’shome, ostensibly to instil fear in theminds of Tiwary and his family members.Yadav, so arrogant, did not evenunderstand the importance of thecase. Once he called Tiwary to hisoffice and told him to arrest PappuYadav, a gangster turned politician.Raids must happen at Pappu Yadav’soffices and home, Yadav thundered.Tiwary asked for a written order,Yadavwas shocked. No one in Bihar defiedYadav. Tiwary did. Unfortunately,nothing worked in favour of Yadav.