Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Friday rubbished reports of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) questioning his wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav, while terming the raid a political vendetta by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. Yadav was quoted by PTI as saying: “CBI searches is a BJP conspiracy, witch hunt. I have done nothing wrong and I am open to any probe.” The RJD chief also said, “Decisions on handing over hotels were taken before I took over as railway minister, so the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government must respond on the issue.”
Lalu Yadav also challenged PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah saying he will break their egos. “Suno Modi, Amit Shah faasi ke fande par latak jaayenge lekin tumhara aehankaar, buniyaad choor-choor kar denge (Listen Modi and Amit Shah, even if I will be sentenced to death, I will break your ego and foundation (sic)”, said Yadav according to news agency ANI.
Meanwhile, hitting out at BJP for the CBI raids, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “CBI raids at Lalu Prasad’s residence political reprisal, BJP is using central agencies to disturb opposition parties.”
CBI on Friday registered a case against former Railways minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rabri and Tejashwi on corruption charges during his tenure as Union minister in 2006. The investigative agency carried out raids at 12 locations, including Yadav’s premises in Delhi, Patna, Ranchi, Puri and Gurgaon.
The case has been lodged for alleged corruption by Yadav’s family. It is related to the alleged irregularities in tenders allotted to Sujata Hotels, a private company, for development, maintenance and operation of BNR hotels at Ranchi and Puri. These hotels are Indian Railways’ heritage hotels which IRCTC took over from the public transporter in 2006.
However, Senior BJP leader and Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu denied any “political vendetta” in the raids and said that the “CBI is doing its duty.”
“The case is of criminal conspiracy (section 120-B) and cheating (section 420) under the Indian Penal Code, and corruption,” said Rakesh Asthana, additional director, CBI, who is supervising the case. He also said the agency registered the FIR on July 5, after it was convinced of the veracity of the allegations during a preliminary enquiry.
The other accused named in the FIR are Sarla Gupta, wife of Prem Chand Gupta, RJD MP and a close aide of Prasad; Vijay Kochhar and Vinay Kochhar, directors of Sujata Hotels and owners of Chanakya Hotel in Patna; Delight Marketing Company, now known as Lara Projects; and the then IRCTC managing director P K Goel.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar did not react publicly to the raids. According to the officials, he had left for Rajgir in Nalanda on Thursday night due to “health reasons” and had called for a meeting with senior officials.