Senior BJP leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Wednesday alleged that RJD chief Lalu Prasad had sent an emissary to, and subsequently met, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to stop the CBI from opposing relief granted to him by a Jharkhand High Court verdict in 2014, and in return ostensibly promised to bring down the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar by splitting the JD(U).
He claimed that Jaitley had turned down the offer, saying that the CBI is an autonomous agency, and he “cannot interfere with it”.
RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha denied the allegations and said Sushil Modi is making “brazenly false claims”.
According to Sushil Modi, Lalu first sent party colleague and Rajya Sabha MP Prem Chand to meet Jaitley sometime in 2016, after the CBI had gone in appeal against a Jharkhand HC verdict on clubbing of fodder scam cases.
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The HC verdict, seen as a relief for Lalu, had come in 2014. The CBI had appealed in the apex court against the HC verdict in 2014. The RJD-JD(U)-Congress mahagathbandhan – grand alliance – was formed in early 2015 for the state elections the alliance won against the BJP in October-November.
In May 2017, the SC accepted the CBI’s plea and ruled that Lalu will be tried separately for corruption in a criminal case in the fodder scam.
Addressing the media today, Sushil Modi said, “Since Lalu Prasad frequently spews venom on the BJP and RSS, let me give some examples how he has taken help of BJP and RSS from time to time, and can go to any extent to seek favours. After the Jharkhand High Court ruled in his favour, clubbing all fodder scam cases, the CBI had decided to appeal against the verdict in Supreme Court.” Lalu, according to Sushil, wanted CBI not to oppose oppose his plea even if the HC verdict was challenged.
He said: “First, he (Lalu) sent his emissary, Prem Chand Gupta, to Jaitley. Then, Gupta and he went together to meet Jaitley and sought his help. He (Lalu) assured that he would pull down the Nitish Kumar government by splitting away his MLAs. But Jaitley firmly said no.”
The BJP leader also claimed that Lalu had earlier, too, not fought shy of taking the BJP or the Sangh’s help. Modi said, “In 1973, the ABVP and the Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha (Lalu was part of this outfit) together contested the Patna University Students’ Union (PUSU) elections. While Lalu became the PUSU president as SYS nominee, I became its general secretary as the ABVP nominee. Lalu Prasad had visited the Sangh office to thank it. During the 1974 JP Movement, he again got the RSS’s help.”
RJD leader Manoj Jha told The Indian Express: “When you start losing political balance on a daily basis, you become Sushil Modi in Bihar politics. Those who know Lalu-ji, and his consistently stated position regarding the RSS and the BJP, will laugh at such brazenly false claims. In order to protect Nitish-ji on his offer to the RJD, which is in public domain, he (Sushil Modi) has acknowledged that the BJP and RSS machinery knows how to fix judiciary and investigation, etc. Junior Modi has almost exposed the modus operandi of his party.”
Lalu Prasad’s wife and former Bihar CM Rabri Devi and son and Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav had recently claimed that Nitish Kumar had grown uneasy with the BJP “within six months” of returning to the NDA in July 2017, and had sent feelers through JD(U) leader election strategist Prashant Kishor that he wanted a rapprochement with the RJD. The RJD, they claimed, spurned the offer.