A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) visited the residence of former Bihar CM Rabri Devi, the probe agency on Tuesday started questioning her husband and former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in connection with the land for jobs scam case where people were allegedly given jobs in the railways in return for land parcels gifted or sold at cheap rates to the Yadav family and associates.
On Monday, Rabri Devi was quizzed at her Patna residence by the agency for nearly five hours. According to officials, a team of five CBI officials arrived in two cars at 10.40 am at the residence of Misha Bharti in Pandara Park on Tuesday where Prasad is currently residing and the questioning will continue during the day.
The CBI has already filed a charge sheet in the case against Prasad, Rabri Devi, and 14 others under charges of criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, in which all the accused have been summoned on March 15.
Officials said a fresh round of questioning is taking place as part of "further investigation" where the investigation agency is trying to ascertain the money trail and larger conspiracy. The fresh questioning of ailing Prasad, who was convicted in a fodder scam, and his wife had evoked sharp criticism from opposition parties on Monday. Prasad's son and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav termed the CBI action a result of his family's "relentless opposition" to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "It is an open secret that probe agencies are acting against political opponents of the BJP and helping those who agree to align with that party," the RJD leader told reporters outside the Bihar Assembly on Monday.
Yadav said as the then railway minister, Prasad, had "no powers" to give employment in exchange for favors. He got support from Congress and the AAP which targeted the central government alleging that the saffron party wanted to "suppress" the voice of the opposition.
"Today Rabri Devi ji is being harassed. Lalu Prasad ji and his family have been harassed for years because they did not bow down," Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted. AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said targeting and harassing opposition leaders is wrong. The CBI had recently arrested the then Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in the excise policy scam case.
What is the case?
The case in which searches are being conducted was registered on May 18 against RJD supremo Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi, and daughters Misa Bharti and Hema Yadav, in addition to 12 people who were given jobs in Railway zones of Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur, Hajipur in 2008-09, the officials said.
The central agency had registered a preliminary enquiry on September 23, 2021 related to the land-for-jobs scam in Railways.
The candidates were appointed as substitutes in group D positions within three days of applying in "undue haste" by Railway officials and were later regularised "in lieu thereof the individuals themselves or their family members transferred their land," according to the agency.
The transfers were made through three sale deeds in the name of Rabri Devi and one in the name of Misa Bharti and two gift deeds in the name of Hema Yadav, the agency alleged.
Meanwhile, sparks are set to fly at the Bihar assembly on Wednesday when the BJP, now stripped of power and politically isolated, will try to hold its own against the mighty seven-party ruling 'Mahagathbandhan'.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who, following days of simmering tensions, finally ended his party Janata Dal (United)'s alliance with the BJP and formed a government with the RJD and other parties earlier this month, is all set to prove his majority in the state Assembly today.
(with PTI inputs)