'Political vendetta', RJD leaders question timing of CBI raids at Lalu properties

Patna, May 20 (IANS) Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Friday reacted sharply over the raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in more than 15 locations of Lalu Prasad.

Sunil Singh, senior leader of the party and an MLC, slammed the CBI for conducting raids "on the direction of the Narendra Modi government".

"Conduct raids at the places you want. You (CBI) will not get anything other than cow dung and Baba Ji Ka Thullu," Singh asserted before the mediapersons in Patna.

"The act of CBI is a part of the political vendetta by the BJP to harass Lalu Prasad and his family," he added.

Alok Mehta, another senior leader of the RJD and close to the Lalu family said: "The BJP is doing everything to stay in power in Bihar. It is involved in increasing communal tension in the society and diverting the attention from the real issues. Those who are pointing out real issues before the countrymen are getting harassed through the central agencies. They want to suppress the voice of a person who is vocal against the divisive politics of the BJP and RSS."

Shakti Singh Yadav, another senior leader of the RJD said that the party will start a movement against the BJP in Bihar.

Earlier, the CBI registered a fresh FIR against Lalu Prasad in the alleged IRCTC scam during his tenure as the Union railway minister between 2005 to 2009. But the million dollar question arises here is what new proof the CBI obtained after 13 years against Lalu Prasad to register an FIR followed by raids at more than 15 places in Patna, Delhi, Gopalganj, and other places.

At present Rabri Devi and Tej Pratap Yadav are present in Patna. The CBI officials are quizzing Tej Pratap Yadav in his official residence. Tejashwi Yadav is in London for a conference while Lalu Prasad and his daughter Misa Bharti are in Delhi.

Timing and probable reasons of raids

The timing of the FIR and raids is important here, especially in the last one and half months. During the period of Ramzan, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav came very close to each other. Nitish Kumar went to the Rabri Devi residence for the Iftar party. When the JD(U)'s minority wing invited Tejashwi Yadav for the Iftar party, Nitish Kumar went to the car of Tejashwi Yadav to see-off him and then sat in his own car.

Sources have said that the BJP think tank got restless after Tejashwi Yadav announced a padyatra from Patna to New Delhi on the issue of caste-based census. The office of CMO Bihar immediately called Tejashwi Yadav for a close-door meeting with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. That meeting lasted one hour wherein no one was allowed inside.

Sources further said that Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav were discussing the formation of a new government in Bihar. For Nitish Kumar, the caste-based census could be an issue to leave the BJP and form a new government in Bihar with the support of the RJD.

After that meeting, Tejashwi was also looking calm. He claimed that the chief minister will call an all-party meeting to discuss the issue of caste-based census.

Nitish Kumar contested the 2015 election under the umbrella of Mahagathbandhan where the RJD was the elder partner with 81 seats in the Vidhan Sabha. Nitish Kumar came out of the Mahagathbandhan after the railway and IRCTC scams surfaced in 2017. Lalu Prasad was facing charges of recruiting a number of people in the Indian Railway on the basis of cash and land registry. Some of the job aspirants have registered their lands in the names of Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav. When the name of Tejashwi Yadav came in the FIR of CBI, Nitish Kumar broke the alliance and jumped into the ship of the BJP to form the government in Bihar. He broke the alliance with the RJD on the claim of zero-tolerance on corruption in his government.

JD(U) led by Nitish Kumar contested the 2020 Assembly election under the umbrella of NDA, but it's seats were less compared to the 2015 poll. Nitish Kumar believes that the seats of his party came down due to BJP. Hence, the relationship of the JD(U) and BJP was sour from the beginning of this government. During the oath ceremony of Nitish Kumar, Union Home Minister Amit Shah came to Raj Bhawan, but these two leaders were not looking friendly at all.

For the BJP, its leaders know that Nitish Kumar has so many qualities but they also know that he can shift the goal post any time from the NDA to Mahagathbandhan. Caste-based census is one of the issues where the JD(U) and the BJP have difference of opinions and Nitish Kumar could utilise that point to change the government.

The Narendra Modi government knows Bihar is critical for him in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Hence, the BJP top leadership wants to stay in the government of Bihar. On the other hand, Nitish Kumar knows that if they stay with BJP, the performance of JD(U) in the Lok Sabha elections 2024 and Vidhan Sabha 2025 may reach another low.

The JD(U) did not announce the name of R.C.P. Singh as a candidate for the Rajya Sabha. It was also a hint from Nitish Kumar to the BJP as everyone knows that R.C.P. Singh is having good connections with the top leadership of the BJP. The party has already announced the name of party old loyalist Anil Hegde for the Rajya Sabha seat. At present, the JD(U) has not enough strength to send two Rajya Sabha candidates.

The political experts believe that there is a message for Nitish Kumar as well here. It would not be easy for him to move away from the BJP and form a new government in Bihar with the help of the RJD. Nitish Kumar was also a Union railway minister in the past and allegedly sleeper scam took place during his tenure. The case of Bihar's Srijan scam is also in the hands of CBI.


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