An uproar erupted in Bihar after a CBI team visited the residence of former chief minister Rabri Devi in connection with a “further probe" in the land for jobs scam case. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which is allied with incumbent CM Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), protested against the Central Bureau of Investigation’s visit and accused the BJP, which is in opposition in the state but in power at the Centre, of using probe agencies to target the rivals.
However, a CBI official told news agency ANI that the team visited Rabri’s residence only after she decided March 6 as the date of questioning. “A few days ago CBI summoned former Bihar CM Rabri Devi and she herself decided March 6 as the date of questioning at her residence. It is not that CBI barged in," the official stated.
Another official said, “There is no search or raid taking place. The CBI had already filed its charge sheet in the case and the special court summoned the accused, including former Railways Minister Lalu Prasad and his family members and others on March 15. The agency has kept the further probe open into the alleged scam case. The visit of the CBI team is in connection with further investigation into the case."
Talking to the media, Rabri’s son and Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav said that he had anticipated this when ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) was being formed in the state. Times of India quoted him as saying, “The day trust vote was ongoing, and our ‘Mahagathbandhan’ government was formed, I said then only that these things will keep on happening. There is a hearing on March 15, which is a normal procedure for bail."
“If you stay with BJP, you will be Raja Harishchandra. In Maharashtra when Sharad Pawar’s nephew (Ajit Pawar) went to BJP, all cases were withdrawn. When TMC’s Mukul Roy when to BJP, all cases were withdrawn. Whenever you show the mirror to BJP, this will happen," he was quoted as saying.
Reacting to CBI’s visit at Rabri’s residence, RJD leader Bhai Birendra said, “The BJP is afraid of losing and using agencies."
The CBI team reached 10, Circular Road, a stone’s throw from the official residence of Nitish Kumar and the Raj Bhavan.
The CBI has also issued notice to Rabri’s husband and former railway minister Lalu Prasad in connection with the case.
Here’s What Cong, AAP Say
Meanwhile, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra lashed out at the BJP over it and alleged that the ruling party at the Centre wants to “suppress" the voice of the Opposition. She also alleged that the Opposition leaders who are not ready to bow before the BJP are being “harassed" through the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI.
“Today Rabri Devi ji is being harassed. Lalu Prasad ji and his family have been harassed for years because they did not bow down," Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. BJP wants to “suppress" the voice of the opposition, she alleged.
Referring to Lalu Prasad’s “fragile state of health, another Congress leader Kabil Sibal said that the CBI is doing this “to pressurise Tejashwi".
CBI heat on LaluWe all know the fragile state of his healthTo pressurise Tejasvi
The more the government does this more the people will turn against this government
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) March 6, 2023
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal also slammed it and called it “humiliating". His reaction came at a time when two AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain have faced charges of corruption and money laundering from the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED). Sisodia and Jain recently stepped down from the Delhi cabinet.
Kejriwal’s remarks also came after he and eight other opposition leaders, including chief ministers Mamata Banerjee and K Chandrashekar Rao, wrote to the prime minister alleging “blatant misuse" of central agencies against members of the opposition. The other signatories to the letter were Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Farooq Abdullah (Jammu & Kashmir National Conference), Uddhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena, UBT) and Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party.
‘Lalu Reaping What He Sowed’
BJP leaders in Bihar asserted that the CBI was “doing its job as an independent agency" in cases against RJD president Lalu Prasad who was “reaping what he had sown".
“Lalu Prasad’s brush with CBI has been long. The fodder scam cases, in which he has been convicted, were lodged much before the BJP came into picture,” said senior BJP leader and former state minister Nitin Nabin. He pointed out “the fodder scam cases were registered when the Centre was ruled by the United Front, of which he was a part. The complainants included Shivanand Tiwary, now his party’s national vice president, and Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan, who heads the JD(U), his current ally".
Jibesh Kumar Mishra, another BJP leader and ex-minister, said, “Lalu Prasad got first convicted in a fodder scam case in 2013, when the Congress-led UPA, of which his party was a part, ruled the Centre".
“The CBI is an independent agency and doing its job. Allegations of political vendetta are baseless. Lalu Prasad and his family are reaping what he has sown (jaisi karni vaisi bharni),” the BJP leader added.
What is the land for jobs scam case?
The case is related to the period when Lalu Prasad was the railway minister in the UPA-1 government. It was alleged in the FIR that some persons, although residents of Patna in Bihar, were appointed as substitutes in Group-D posts during the period 2004-2009 in different zones of the railways located in Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur, and Hajipur and in lieu thereof, the individuals themselves or their family members transferred their land in the name of family members of Prasad and a company, AK Infosystems Private Limited, which was subsequently taken over by family members of Prasad.
It was further alleged that about 1,05,292 sq. ft. of land situated in Patna was acquired by the family members of Lalu Prasad from those persons through five sale deeds and two gift deeds and in most of the sale deeds, payment to the sellers was mentioned to be paid in cash.
The value of the land as per existing circle rate was about Rs 4.39 crore.
The land was directly purchased by the family members of Lalu Prasad from the sellers at a rate lower than the prevalent circle rate. The prevalent market value of the land was much higher than the circle rate.
It was alleged that due procedure and guidelines issued by the railway authority for the appointment of substitutes was not followed and later on, their services had also been regularised.
(with inputs from PTI)
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