Both of them have refused to go gentle into that good night. They have raged even when the odds have been stacked against them.
K Arumugham and Rajendra Pandey are probably among the last of the fodder scam convicts without slumped shoulders: they nitpick,they point fingers,they refuse to accept the sense of inevitability that 17 years can bring.
Arumugham,70,secretary of the Bihar animal husbandry department from 1990 to 1992,was found guilty on Monday along with Lalu Prasad Yadav and 43 others in the fodder scam case concerning the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from the Chaibasa treasury.
Like seven other convicts,he is on a months provisional bail,as the prison sentence for his charges is three years.
I will go to the high court to get the charges against me quashed,as I was not even the AHD secretary during the time of the commission of offence the withdrawals in this case took place in 1994-95. I had moved to the health department by then, he said.
A lot of what Arumugham has to say is on fodderscamtruth.com,a website he launched in 2009. Now the CBI judges are convicting persons ruthlessly even when there is no evidence against the accused and rather their innocence has been proved beyond doubt, he has written there.
Arumugham,who himself argued his case in the Supreme Court,is accused in six cases – the same in which former Bihar Chief Ministers Yadav and Jagannath Mishra are also accused. The main charge against him is the same as those against Yadav: umbrella protection to the scamsters.
Arumugham,who retired in 2003,says the case boils down to one thing: It is about discrimination. I am a Dalit but never faced any sort of discrimination either in Tamil Nadu or Bihar till I was selectively picked as an accused.
Pandey,who retired as a senior accountant and against whom six cases were lodged,has mapped the role of the office of the Accountant General. An investigation should proceed towards resolving an issue. The investigation in the fodder scam went ahead with the sole intention of getting to one man. Did anyone not take bath in this Ganga? Then why were the accused hand-picked? he asked.
Arumugham agrees: We cannot forget the fact that Lalu Prasad helped the Dalit and backward castes of Bihar speak up. There was a perception that I was close to him – it was exactly what it sounded like,a mere perception. However,the investigating officers tried their best to get me to talk on his alleged role,which I knew nothing about.
Arumugham,who quotes Ram Manohar Lohia and talks about chancing upon Jayaprakash Narayan as a young officer when JP travelled around Bihar building his movement,said he is close to giving up.
Pandey,however,refuses to be cowed down. I do not want to die and be remembered as a scamster. My face has been blackened; I want to wash the dirt of it, he said.
The main charge against him has been that he failed to scrutinise the large bills that came his way. He says that was not his job but that of the accountant general.
Pandey has filed two PILs,made several representations and gone as far as the Supreme Court in a futile attempt to get the CBI to investigate the role of the Accountant General.
He has also filed volleys of RTI applications with varying success. This,in between being convicted in three cases and sentenced to up to five years,getting one quashed and fighting two ongoing ones.