Even as a clutch of Opposition parties emerged in support of RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Friday, his Bihar Grand Alliance partner Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) refrained from lending support to the former Union Railways minister on the day the CBI booked him, along with wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav, in a corruption case and raided the family’s properties in different locations.
The third key partner in the alliance, the Congress, however, had all guns blazing, accusing the BJP-led Central government of using investigating agencies to “seek revenge against political opponents”.
Asked about the CBI case against the trio over alleged corruption during Lalu’s tenure as Railways Minister in the UPA-I government, the only response from JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi was, “No comments.”
In Patna, another senior JD(U) leader said, “We have to be cautious, as any sentence can be misinterpreted or over-interpreted. Just as we were waiting for normalcy in the Grand Alliance, the CBI raids took place. We have never been as embarrassed on making our stand clear as we are today…we cannot even use the standard ‘law taking its own course’ line.”
Besides the Congress, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) and former PM H D Deve Gowda’s JDS came out in support of Lalu.
Congress’s communication department head Randeep Surjewala said: “When agencies such as CBI or ED become captive puppets of the BJP government, acting as dirty tricks department to seek revenge against political opponents, it doesn’t bode well for democracy. The matter, as per CBI, dates back to the year 2004, while the FIR was lodged in 2017. Why this inordinate delay and particular silence maintained by the BJP for the last three years?”
Asking a series of questions of the Narendra Modi government, Surjewala said, “The question any reasonable person would validly ask is, what action has the Railways taken so far (on alleged corruption during Lalu’s tenure as the minister)? The answer is: none. Has the lease been cancelled? Has the property been taken in possession by the Railways? Has the Railways filed a criminal complaint to the CBI? What was the anomaly in tender process, or how was it wrong? Why has the Railways not cancelled everything for 14 years?”
TMC leader in Rajya Sabha Derek O’Brien said, “This is just another chapter in the endless list of political vendetta that the BJP writes every day.”
Calling it a case of “misuse of the CBI”, JDS general secretary Danish Ali told The Indian Express, “This is being done because of the manner Lalu is at the forefront of Opposition unity and is trying to bring the SP and BSP on the same platform in Uttar Pradesh. Right now, Lalu and Mamata are the most vocal (Opposition leaders) against the BJP and the RSS, so both are being targeted.”