The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday registered a case against former Railways minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and his son Tejashwi Yadav on corruption charges during his tenure as Union minister in 2006. The CBI is carrying out raids at 12 locations, including the premises of Lalu Prasad Yadav, in Delhi, Patna, Ranchi, Puri and Gurgaon. Rabri Devi’s current residence 10, Circular Road has also been raided by agency officials. Raids in New Delhi were being conducted in New Friends Colony. In Odisha, raids were carried out at Chanakya BNR Hotel in Puri.
The case is related to alleged irregularities in tenders allotted to a private company Sujata Hotels for development, maintenance and operation of BNR hotels at Ranchi and Puri. The BNR hotels are Railways’ heritage hotels which IRCTC took over fro the public transporter earlier in the same year.
Former Managing Director, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) P K Goel, Sujata, wife of Yadav’s confidante Prem Chand Gupta, two directors of a private company, have also been booked by CBI in connection with the case, among others.
Speaking to reporters, Lalu Prasad described the raids as “witch hunt”. “The raid is a witch hunt; There is no illegality. I have done nothing wrong,” Yadav said. “No wrong was done in the tendering, this is a BJP conspiracy.Me and my party will not be cowed down,” he further added.
BJP legislature party leader Sushil Kumar Modi had revealed, earlier this year, that two railways hotels had been allotted “in contravention of tender norms and at throwaway prices”. Modi had alleged that the beneficiary had transferred precious plots at Patna – where a big mall has been coming up- via RJD MP Prem Chand Gupta.
Several RJD leaders, who gathered at Lalu Prasad’s residence to express solidarity, accused the NDA government of ‘political vendetta’ as Lalu Prasad had always targeted ‘communal agenda’ of BJP. A party leader said: “RJD rally scheduled for August 27 would be conducted even if he is arrested.” RJD Mla and close aide to Lalu, Shakti Singh Yadav said, “Union railway minister has no rile to play in hotel allotment.” Another RJD leader Manoj Jha said that the party will fight legally and politically agains the charges. Speaking to ANI, Jha said, “Today is the darkest day in Indian democracy. We will not be cowed down by this. We will fight legally and politically,” Jha said.
ANI EXCLUSIVE: CBI FIR copy in Railway hotel tenders case, names Lalu Yadav, wife Rabri,son Tejaswi and others pic.twitter.com/hbLcGiKCuv
— ANI (@ANI_news) July 7, 2017
BJP Leader Giriraj Singh spoke to news agency ANI, and said that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar can no longer remain quiet on corruption charges against Lalu Prasad Yadav. “Law is taking its course. Now Nitish Kumar ji cannot remain a mute spectator. He will have to speak out and state his stand clearly,” Singh said. “Now, Nitish Kumar has to decide if he wants to stay with Lalu Prasad, who is already a convict in corruption case,” he added. Meanwhile, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Friday called for a senior officials meeting in Rajgir. It is not immediately known whether it is related to today’s raids at Lalu Prasad’s residences.
Lalu Prasad held the position of Union Railways Minister from 2004 to 2009 under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s UPA-1 regime. After winning 21 seats in the 2004 general elections, RJD formed alliance with Indian National Congress (INC) and was the second largest member of UPA 1.
Yadav was succeeded by current West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee as the Railways Minister in 2009, who held the position for the next two years.