I did no wrong, this is a BJP conspiracy, says Lalu Prasad after CBI raids
The CBI raided premises of former railway minister Lalu Prasad and his family over corruption charges in awarding a tender for maintenance of IRCTC hotels in Ranchi and Puri in 2006.india Updated: Jul 07, 2017 21:06 IST
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad attacked the BJP on Friday, terming the Central Bureau of Investigation raids on his house “political vendetta” by the ruling party and vowing that he won’t be “cowed down” by the probe.
Talking to reporters in Ranchi, Prasad blamed the BJP and RSS for intimidating him and his family in false cases, hours after the CBI raided his residence in connection with an alleged land-for-hotels scandal.
“The BJP is wary of me. It wants to put me and my family in jail before the 2019 parliamentary polls…Lalu will prefer dying that succumbing to such pressures,” he told a large gathering of reporters. He was in Ranchi to appear before a special CBI court in connection with a fodder scam case.
“I am not the one to be cowed down.”
The CBI raided 12 places across the country, including his Patna home, over alleged irregularities in awarding of tenders for hotel maintenance when the RJD chief was the railways minister.
The raids began simultaneously in Delhi, Gurgaon, Puri, Ranchi and Patna at around 5.45 am on Friday when Prasad was in Ranchi to appear at a CBI court.
“I do not blame the CBI sleuths. They are acting on the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and RSS. It was unfair to raid my house in my absence. Still I have advised my family members to cooperate with the CBI officials and ensure their exit smoothly under our police protection,” Prasad said.
Cases have been registered against Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and their son Tejashwi, who is the deputy chief minister of Bihar, CBI sources said.
The CBI is examining irregularities in awarding tenders to private firms for operating railway hotels located close to stations. Among the places being raided were a few farm houses and two hotels, including the popular Chanakya BNR Hotel in Ranchi.
These raids come weeks after income-tax department searched locations in New Delhi and adjoining areas in connection with corruption charges against Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar, who were also questioned.
Tejashwi and his elder brother Tej Pratap, who is the Bihar health minister, are also battling charges of corruption.
Prasad is being tried in the fodder scandal. He had to step down as a member of Parliament and was barred from electoral politics for at least six years on being found guilty in one of the cases in 2013.
The RJD chief said he has no idea how and when a fresh case has been filed against him. “The entire operation to implicate me was planned and executed so covertly that even my media friends didn’t get a feel of it. How was a search warrant procured so quickly,” he wondered.
As he spoke, he took out a chit from his pocket to counter the CBI charges in the alleged railway hotel contract scam. He said the allotment of the railway rest houses to private firms was carried out by an autonomous body, IRCTC, which was formed in 1999 and became operational in 2002.
Prasad said he assumed charge of the railway ministry on May 31’ 2004. Two years later, IRCTC floated an open tender to lease out these properties for a period of 15 years for their development and proper upkeep. “You may find out, no IRCTC files come to the railway ministry for approval,” he stressed.
Prasad reminded that during his tenure, Indian railways became a profitable entity from a loss making sector and the success story became a subject for study at various national and international institutions including Harvard and IIM Ahmedabad.
“I never indulged in any corrupt practices during my tenure though there were opportunities for me to make big money.”