Lalu Yadav has been rallying opposition forces against the BJP-led NDA and alleges that it’s the reason he is being targeted.
NEW DELHI: Lalu Yadav and his son Tejashwi, Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister, have been formally charged with corruption by the CBI, which today raided a dozen places including their home in Patna in connection with a land scam. “It is a conspiracy,” said the former Chief Minister, hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP. Mr Yadav’s wife Rabri Devi, also a past Chief Minister, is among those named in the investigating agency’s complaint.
- Mr Yadav has been accused of facilitating a contract to a private company to run hotels as the country’s Railways Minister in 2006, after receiving a bribe in the form of a three-acre plot in Patna, where a mall is being built.
- The CBI alleges a conspiracy between Mr Yadav, Sujata Hotels and a company owned by Sarla Gupta, the wife of Mr Yadav’s party MP and close aide Prem Gupta.
- Sujata Hotels director Vinay Kochhar sold the premium commercial land in 2005 to Sarla Gupta’s company and years later, the land was transferred to Mr Yadav’s wife and sons.
- The transfer of the land came through the same day the Railways started leasing hotels to private companies for maintenance. Railways received 15 bids for two hotels in Puri and Ranchi, but there are no records of bidders other than Sujata hotels, which snagged a 15-year lease.
- “The hotels were transferred to Sujata Hotels through a rigged and manipulated process,” said CBI officer Rakesh Asthana. The charges listed against the former Chief Minister include criminal conspiracy and cheating.
- The Patna land was severely undervalued during the transfer to Mr Yadav’s family, said the CBI. “The cost of the land was 32 crores but it was transferred to the family members of Lalu Yadav for a nominal amount of Rs. 64 lakh,” said Mr Asthana.
- Mr Yadav’s party RJD partners Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s party Janata Dal-United in Bihar and both his sons are ministers.
- The veteran politician, who cannot hold public office now because of corruption charges, has been hemmed in by CBI and tax investigations against his family over the past few months.
- He has been rallying opposition forces against the BJP-led NDA and alleges that it’s the reason he is being targeted. “This is political vendetta. They want me to bow before BJP,” he charged.
- Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, responding to the allegation, said the government and the BJP have no role in the raids. “The CBI is doing its job, which it was earlier not allowed to,” he said.