From fodder scam to properties: Lalu Prasad and his family are caught in a web of trouble
Lalu Prasad’s house in Patna was raided on Friday morning, apart from 11 other locations that are connected to either him, his son Tejashwi. His wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa Bharti are also under the scanner.india Updated: Jul 07, 2017 11:41 IST
Even as RJD chief Lalu Prasad seeks to forge a grand opposition unity, he is in the middle of one of his worst political and personal crises. He and his family today face a maze of corruption charges – some old going back to the fodder scam, many new linked to land deals and alleged money laundering.
Apart from the CBI raiding his house on Friday morning, a mix of judicial orders, an aggressive BJP led by Bihar leader Sushil Kumar Modi levelling allegations, and energetic central investigative agencies has resulted in this acute crisis. The allegations also have implications for the Mahagatbandhan. Prasad denies all charges.
Personally, Lalu Prasad – convicted in the fodder scam – continues to face legal troubles.
One of the five fodder cases has reopened. And following a Supreme Court order to complete the trial within nine months, the court has started hearing the cases on a priority basis. Lalu has had to travel to Jharkhand to appear before the concerned court on a weekly basis.
Then there are a spate of allegations against family members.
The Income Tax department raided 22 locations in New Delhi and adjoining places, related to land and farm houses owned by Lalu’s daughter, Misa Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar. The two were also questioned. ED too has begun investigations.
His son and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav is alleged to hold heavy stakes in a company promoting Bihar’s biggest mall in the state capital worth Rs 750 crore; another son Tej Pratap is alleged to hold big tracts of land and a petrol pump (cancelled but stayed by court); and daughters – Misa, Hema and Ragini – have been accused of being directors in many shell companies. In all of this, the charge is that Lalu’s position in power was misused to amass assets.
DELIGHT MARKETING COMPANY PVT LTD
Allegation: Firm, initially owned by RJD MP Prem Gupta, was transferred to Lalu’s wife and son, who allegedly got prime land in Patna from industrialist Harsh Kochar against allotment of two hotels in Ranchi and Puri during Lalu’s stint as railway minister.Status: I-T has provisionally attached the property.AB HOLDINGS PVT LTD
Allegation: Company owned by Tejaswi and sister Chanda, posesssing property in Delhi, accused of money laundering.Status: I-T has provisionally attached the land and construction has stopped.AK INFOSYSTEM PVT LTD
Allegations: Company, owned by Rabri, Tejaswi, and other family members, with property in Patna’s 3 prime areas, accused of owning benaami assets and money laundering.Status: I-T has provisionally attached the properties.MISHAIL PACKERS AND PRINTERS PVT LTD
Allegation: Company owned by Lalu’s elder daughter Misa and her husband Shailesh, accused of money laundering.Status: I-T has questioned Misa and Shailesh. ED has also arrested Misa’s chartered accountant Rajesh Agrawal.FAIRGROW HOLDING PVT LTD
Allegation: Owned by Lalu’s family, possessing property worth Rs 76 lakh, accused of money laundering.Status: BJP wants a probe.KHK HOLDING PVT LTD
Allegation: Company owned by Misa and Shailesh, with property in Delhi’s Sainik Farms, accused of money laundering and benaami assets.DEFENCE: RJD’s spokesperson Manoj Jha said, "Norms were followed. All reords are there in the website of the registrar of companies."
There are also accusations against Prasad of taking prime land from RJD’s senior leaders like Raghunanth Jha, Kanti Singh and few ordinary people in lieu of giving them ministerial berths and jobs during his stint at railway minister from 2004-09. The land plots were gifted to Prasad’s two sons by the donors.
“Lalu Prasad’s family own six companies . All these companies are shell companies promoted to purchase land or other real estate property and then sold over to Lalu’s family at throwaway prices. Besides, the way his close associates gifted lands to his sons when they were minors show how he has a huge hunger for land,” said Sushil Modi.
Political blame game
The RJD chief has put up brave face asserted there was nothing wrong in his family having business interests insisting they were ready for a probe. “What is wrong if my sons have interest in a mall. Should they wear tattered clothes.”
But the pressure shows. Lalu has taken to astrological remedies holding Sunderkand path at his residence.
Insiders say the RJD chief is apprehensive of Income Tax and ED tightening its noose on his children including two sons on charges of money laundering and owning benaami assets, which could lead to imprisonment upto seven years.
“The RJD would be in crisis, if the IT or ED summons the deputy CM. It would tarnish the Yadav scion’s image as a future leader of the party,” said a senior alliance leader.
The charges have also left him on weaker footing in the alliance, giving space to chief minister Nitish Kumar to act more assertive in governance and supporting BJP on issues. Key decisions by the government have also been held up like filling up posts in various boards and corporations have been put on hold.
The BJP is keeping a ‘wait and watch’ policy even as some of its leaders claim the coalition would break if investigating agencies crack on Prasad’s two sons. “ We can have early polls in Bihar,” said a BJP leader, seeking anonymity. What is clear is that Lalu Prasad’s grand opposition unity efforts emerge from the difficult spot he is in.