Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hotel after fodder scandal

Rashtriya Janta Dal Supremo and former Chief Minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav and his kin again have come into the net of CBI for leasing of Railway hotels in Ranchi and Puri to a company in lieu of land worth crores to his wife former CM Rabri Devi and son Bihar Deputy CM Tejswi Yadav for making the biggest Mall of the state in Patna. The CBI has alleged that when Lalu was Railways Minister in 2008, he got a two-acre plot in Patna as a favour from an entrepreneur Harsh Kocchar, whom Lalu helped in getting 15-year-lease to run two Railways’ hotels in Puri and Ranchi. Currently, the Yadavs are building a mall on that two-acre land. Kocchar allegedly sold land to a company owned by the wife of an RJD MP and then the land was transferred in the name of Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi and son Tejasvi.The CBI case has brought a bunch of new concerns for the Yadavs who have been facing Income Tax probe for allegedly becoming the owner of property worth Rs. 1000 crore via shell companies. CBI raided the residence of former Chief Minister and Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi on 12 Circular Road in Patna in connection with her and son Tejswi Yadav’s interrogation about the transfer of a 2 acre land in Patna in their names to construct a mall. It is a case of Quid Pro Quo as Lalu Yadav allegedly favoured the company in the leasing of the hotels and in lieu of that they were asked to give land to the LARA project of which Yadav' family members are reported to be owners. The biggest mall of Bihar in Patna is being constructed by the LARA project. Though Lalu Yadav has said that CBI's raid at his wife’s residence in his absence is purely politically motivated under the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, Union I&B Minister Venkaih Naidu has said that neither the BJP nor the Government has nothing to do with the CBI raid at Rabri Devi residence in Patna. He said that investigating agency was free to act on its own. He has rightly said that if Lalu’s allegation of political vendetta is to be taken seriously, the investigating agencies would not act against any politician involved in corruption. Central Bureau is the premier investigating agency of the nation. Though the Supreme Court once said that CBI was like caged parrot, it must be left free to act on the complaint sincerely, without any bias and under no pressure. Lalu Yadav is, undoubtedly, one of the strongest opposition leaders in the country and he has been very vocal against the Narendra Modi-led NDA govt. at the Centre. He has also announced that his party is going to hold a mega rally named ‘Bharat Bachao, BJP Bhagao on August 27 in Patna and he is going to invite all opposition leaders to participate in it. Therefore, the timing of CBI raids against Lalu and his kin is seen to weaken and demoralize the vocal leaders through using the premier investigating agency against him. As far as the ruling Mahagathbandhan is concerned, it appears that its longevity may not be affected immediately, but this CBI raid at Rabri’s residence has made its functioning more troublesome. The leader of the Bihar Mahagatbandhan JU(U) supremo and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is silent and has not given his reaction to the CBI raid at Rabri's Patna residence. The relation among the Mahagathbandhan partners is already strained as CM Nitish Kumar went to support NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind for presidential election against the opposition presidential nominee Meira Kumar. Undoubtedly, Nitish Kumar is known for honesty, integrity, and good governance. There has been no allegation of corruption against him in his long political career. But by shaking hands with Lalu Yadav to form Mahagathabandhan of JD(U), RJD and Congress to take on BJP in Bihar assembly elections in 2015, he has already compromised with the tainted image of his biggest partner. Lalu Yadav had already been convicted in fodder scam and because of that, he was banned from contesting elections for 10 years. So, Nitish Kumar will not open his mouth despite several instigations by the opposition BJP in the state but one is certain that he is not comfortable in the company of Lalu and Congress in Mahagathbandhan. Congress is also one of the partners in the ruling alliance and it has openly come out in support of Lalu and called CBI raid at his residence a political vendetta. In the immediate future, there will be no break-up in Mahagathbandhan and Nitish Kumar is not a novice in politics that he would take any decision in haste. He may go back to the NDA fold a year before the assembly elections in Bihar in 2020. Observing the strained relations among Bihar ruling partners, it is also alleged that CBI action may have been expedited against Lalu to force Nitish to come out of Mahagathbandhan. Whatever may be the political position in the state, but one thing must be clear that the corrupt will not be allowed to go free. Whoever has committed corruption, the CBI must act against him.

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