Patna:  A day after a court convicted RJD leader Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam, his wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi may head the party again, party sources said on Tuesday.

This is the dominant view in the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) although party leaders admit that the situation may not be an exact repeat of 1997 when too Rabri Devi headed the party after Lalu Prasad was jailed.

When Lalu Prasad announced in 1997 that his wife -- who until then had kept away from politics -- would be the chief minister in his absence, the RJD was not really comfortable with the idea.

"But everything proved very smooth contrary to widespread fears," senior RJD leader Anwar Ahmad said. "She ran the government with the help of senior party leaders."

Another RJD leader, Ramkirpal Yadav, echoed this view. "Rabri Devi will lead the party."

A special CBI court in Ranchi on Monday convicted Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam. The sentencing will take place on Thursday.

But political activist Anish Ankur admitted that the Rabri Devi saga may turn out to be different this time. "The situation is different. When she became Chief Minister, the RJD was in power. Now the party is in the opposition."

RJD MP Jagdanand Singh denied that the party would disintegrate in the absence of Lalu Prasad. "Even during earlier times, the party emerged stronger after similar crises," he said. Jagdanand Singh made it clear that the RJD will function under a collective leadership.

Rabri Devi has reportedly said that as the RJD was founded by Lalu Prasad, only family members will run the show in his absence. But no one appears to be eager to hand over the RJD's charge to Lalu Prasad's younger son Tejashwi, who is otherwise regarded as his father's political heir. "Senior party leaders have no problems working under Rabri Devi but they have strong reservations about Tejashwi," a RJD leader said. But the broad view in the RJD is that Lalu Prasad's conviction is a major blow.

The development has come ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election, and at a time when the party was trying to prove its worth again following a split in the BJP-JD-U camp.

‘Will run RJD like Sonia and Rahul guiding Congress’

Meanwhile, Rabri Devi had on Monday said that she and her son will run the RJD ‘as Sonia Gandhi and Rahul are guiding the Congress’.

Asked about impact of the court order on RJD's future, Rabri, who had already served Bihar Chief Minister three times, said that her son and she would run the party in the absence of Lalu Prasad "as he had created the party and nourished it".

"As Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are guiding Congress, which their ancestors had created so too we will provide strength to RJD to keep it strong," she said after the CBI court at Ranchi delivered its verdict.

‘My husband has become victim of conspiracy’

Rabri Devi also said that his husband has become a victim of opposition conspiracy. "Laluji has become a victim of opposition conspiracy.

She said that the CBI had raided her house as well as her relatives' houses but failed to recover any money of fodder scam. "Nothing was recovered from our house, it was a conspiracy to frame Laluji," she said.

"Laluji was sent to jail earlier in the fodder case also but RJD remained united and intact. We are confident that party will go on," she said.

Rabri Devi angrily said that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Janata Dal-United MP Shivanand Tiwari were also involved in the fodder scam but they were not made accused and enjoying the power in the state.

(JPN/Agencies)

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