In a sudden development, the CBI, on Friday, conducted raids at 17 locations related to RJD president Lalu Prasad and his family in connection with the alleged land-for-job scandal in the Indian railways. The alleged irregularities purported to have taken place during his tenure as Union railway minister in the UPA-I government at the Centre between 2004 and 2009.
It is alleged that many a person had got jobs in the Indian Railways in exchange for transferring lands to Lalu’s family members.
But what surprised everyone was the way the CBI sleuths got into the job quite early in the morning when they raided the official residence of Rabri Devi, former Bihar chief minister, and wife of the RJD president, in Patna.
Although it’s not known what evidence the CBI teams collected from Rabri’s residence, sources said several persons including the former chief minister and her lawmaker son Tej Pratap Yadav were quizzed. The CBI teams stayed there for more than eight hours, extensively searching every room to lay their hands on evidence.
Neither Prasad nor his younger son, Tejashwi Yadav, considered RJD’s heir apparent, was present there when the CBI raided Rabri’s residence. While Prasad, after getting regular bails in all four fodder scam cases related to Jharkhand state, is currently staying with his eldest daughter Misa Bharti in Delhi, Tejashwi along with his wife is on a foreign tour to address a conference. The only support for Rabri was her eldest son Tej Pratap Yadav who now stays with her.
The timing of the raids assumes much significance as this comes at a time when there is a growing bonhomie between Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Opposition leader, Tejashwi Yadav, over the issue of caste census. Both the leaders have strongly spoken in favour of caste census even as the Chief Minister has already announced to hold an all-party meeting “very soon” to chalk out modalities for caste headcounts in Bihar.
The RJD openly alleged that the move was aimed at dissuading Nitish from moving closer to the RJD and thus avoiding possible danger to the NDA Government in Bihar. “They (the BJP) try to scare others by targeting someone whenever they find the government in trouble. The BJP found itself in trouble due to the increasing mobilisation against it over the issues of caste census and unemployment,” RJD parliamentarian Manoj Jha said.
Declaring that the BJP will have to pay the price for such tactics, Jha warned such moves won’t serve any purposes, instead it would destroy the saffron group.
Former Rajya Sabha member and senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari said the CBI raids could be an attempt to warn Nitish against going closer to the former since “the BJP has been feeling uncomfortable following the growing proximity between the two over the issue of caste census”. Stating that the timing of the raids gives enough hints about this, Tiwari said he hoped Nitish won’t take any note of such actions and would remain adamant on his stand of conducting a caste census.
Questioning the timing of the raid, RJD spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwari wondered how the CBI had woken up from its deep slumber to act against Lalu in a decade-old case. He said the BJP got apparently terrified over reports of realignment of political forces but they must know that such tactics were not going to terrify RJD or Lalu family.
The BJP, on the other hand, rubbished all such allegations saying Lalu was reaping what he had harvested. “When Lalu (Yadav) was the rail minister, he made dozens of people donate land in return for Group-D jobs to someone else & then used to get it gifted from them to himself after 5-6 years. This was the modus operandi,” former deputy chief minister and BJP leader Sushil Modi alleged. According to him, Prasad’s own colleague Shivanand Tiwari had once sought action against him in the railway recruitment scam from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Tiwari was in the JD-U then.