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CBI raids on Lalu: Nitish Kumar’s ‘cold response’ surprises all

“We will together hold a caste census,” Kumar and Tejashwi are seen saying in the poster as the PM replies, “Then, I will send CBI”.

Manoj Chaurasia | Patna |

The CBI’s raids on RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his family in the alleged land-for-job scandal in the Indian railways apparently haven’t gone down well within the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U). At least, the “cold and curt” response of the party and chief minister Nitish Kumar says it all.

The media persons were hugely surprised to find the rather low-key response of the chief minister when asked to comment on CBI’s raids on locations linked to RJD chief Prasad. “Iske bare me hamko kya kahna hai? Wo to jo kar raha hai wo hi na batayega (I have nothing to say about this. Please better ask those who conducted the raids),” the chief minister told the media today, enthusiasm missing in his voice. He added he had no information about those raids.

The apparently “cold response” of the chief minister over the issue has set tongues wagging. The same chief minister had reacted strongly and hurriedly broken alliance with the RJD shortly after the CBI conducted raids on the same Rabri’s residence in Patna in July 2017 in the IRCTC scam which too allegedly had taken place during Prasad’s tenure as Union railway minister.

The result was that the RJD which was in power with the support of JD-U not only found itself on the opposition benches overnight but Prasad’s sons also lost the jobs of ministers. While Prasad’s younger son Tejashwi Yadav served as the deputy chief minister in the Nitish government, his elder son Tej Pratap Yadav was functioning as health minister.

But this time the JD-U doesn’t appear so aggressive towards the Prasad family. Several JD-U leaders have spoken in a very “guarded” language so far, looking very restrained in making comments over the CBI raids. “The CBI might have conducted raids after getting some evidence. If Lalu family nurses any grudge against the CBI, they should move the court,” commented another senior JD-U minister Ashok Chaudhary, considered close to the chief minister.

Although the JD-U leaders have refused to give reasons behind such a muted response, RJD leaders openly say the CBI raids were conducted to discourage the chief minister from coming closer to Prasad. The RJD even put up a poster outside the party office to prove their point. The poster shows the chief minister Kumar and Tejashwi seated closer and engaged in some intimate discussions while Prime Minister Narendra appears like issuing a warning to both with a caged parrot, in obvious reference to the CBI, hanging from his hand.

“We will together hold a caste census,” Kumar and Tejashwi are seen saying in the poster as the PM replies, “Then, I will send CBI”. “This is an attempt to scare the two leaders. Both had, of late, come closer over the issue of caste census but the BJP found itself insecure. Raids are part of its plan to end their closeness,” said Arun Kumar, one of the four RJD leaders who put up this poster.