The CBI conducted searches at 16 sites in Delhi and Bihar on Friday in connection with a new investigation involving former Union Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad and others over an alleged “land-for-job scam.”
“Searches are being conducted in Delhi, Patna, and Gopalganj in Bihar,” a source added. During Mr. Prasad’s stint as Union Minister of Railways from 2004 to 2009, it is alleged that land parcels were distributed as bribes for recruitment.
The agency has filed a case in 2017 alleging corruption in the granting of railway hotel maintenance contracts in Ranchi and Puri to Patna-based Sujata Hotels in 2006. The hotels were first given to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, then to the corporation.
The CBI claimed that the contracts were offered to Sujata Hotels in exchange for a three-acre commercial property in Patna obtained through a front company called Delight Marketing Company.
According to the agency, Mr. Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi and son Tejaswi Yadav took over the corporation that had purchased the land.
‘A warning to Nitish?’
“Is the CBI raid at Mr. Prasad’s homes a warning to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar because of his growing proximity to RJD leader and younger son of Mr. Prasad, Tejashwi Yadav?” Shivanand Tiwari, a top RJD politician who is close to Mr. Prasad, speculated in response to the searches. It’s possible that it made the BJP uneasy. At the very least, the raids’ timing suggests it.”
“This [CBI raid] is an attempt to finish out the Opposition,” senior RJD leader Alok Mehta stated. There is an attempt to stifle the opposition’s voice.”
Mr. Prasad, 73, was recently granted bail in one of the fodder scam cases and released after more than 3.5 years in prison.
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