CBI raids: Does raking up a deal from 2006 reek of vendetta? 

On whose complaint did the CBI act? Who suffered losses because of the lease of hotels? And how much? There are no answers yet, as Lalu Prasad Yadav on Friday claimed to be victim of vendetta



PTI Photo
PTI Photo
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Vishwadeepak

Political vendetta, said Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Friday after CBI teams raided 12 premises across the country belonging to the Lalu clan. He accused the BJP of trying to ‘finish’ him politically before the massive rally he has planned in Patna on the 27th of August. The theme of the rally is “Bhajpa Bhagao, Desh Bachao.”

“They want to send me to jail. They want to disrupt the rally. They want me to cow down before them. This is vendetta unleashed by the Government. They are misusing the CBI,” declared the RJD chief after CBI teams left.

He did not receive much sympathy from even the Opposition. The JD(U), a coalition partner, maintained a studied silence while there was guarded response from the Congress and other parties.

But following CBI raids on the premises of former finance minister P Chidambaram and now Lalu Yadav, coming in the wake of the CBI arresting several Trinamool Congress leaders in West Bengal in connection with the Sarada chit fund scam and Narada sting operation, the RJD and several political observers commented that it was hard to believe there is no element of vendetta in the raids.

“Lalu Prasad Yadav is the main architect of opposition unity, that is why he is being targeted. He is the leader who has the guts to stop BJP’s expansion. Lalu Yadav was galvanising opposition forces for his anti-BJP rally that is planned in August. Before that, by unleashing the CBI, the BJP government wants to shut his mouth,” said senior politician Shivanand Tiwari.

The CBI, he claimed, was acting on a complaint made in 2008 by Sharad Yadav and Lallan Singh of the JD(U). The CBI and the UPA Government at that time had gone into the allegations but did not find sufficient evidence to book the RJD chief.

“Both, Sharad and Lallan Singh, met then Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh in 2008 and demanded a CBI probe. It was JD(U) leaders who raised the alleged irregularities in tenders allotted by Railways and ICRTC to a private company. But the CBI and the Government did not find any merit in the case. Now after three years of being in the power, the Modi government has ordered the CBI inquiry. It means that the Modi government is using the CBI as a tool to shut up opposition leaders,” he added.

Randeep Surjewala, who heads the media cell of the Congress party, was quoted as saying, “Why was there silence for the last 10 years and why was the BJP government silent for the last three years. Investigation should be done in a fair manner and without any political vendetta.”

It is, however, not clear on whose complaint the CBI instituted a case and conducted the preliminary inquiry. Assuming that the Bihar Government didn’t, it leaves the Railway ministry to have moved the CBI for the irregular lease of two Railway hotels in Ranchi and Puri to a private company. Nor is it clear how much loss was incurred by the Railways and why.

The raids, however, have muddied the political water and revived speculation that the BJP is trying to break the RJD in Bihar, ensure cross-voting in the Presidential election and eventually break the coalition government in the state run by the RJD-JD(U)-Congress in the state.

Political observers felt that Friday’s CBI raids had less to do with corruption and financial irregularities and more to do with politics.

“It will deepen the already existing fault lines in the grand alliance. BJP will leave no stone unturned to break the alliance in Bihar,” commented a senior journalist, “to achieve which BJP is following the two-pronged strategy of aligning with smaller parties while going after leaders of bigger opposition parties to discredit them.”

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