Tejashwi blames PM Modi, Amit Shah for graft allegations
Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, along with father and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, is facing charges in an alleged land-for-hotels scandal that saw the CBI raiding their homes and other properties last week.india Updated: Jul 12, 2017 22:22 IST
Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav rebutted on Wednesday corruption charges against him, saying it reeks of political vendetta as he was barely 13 when the alleged case happened in 2004.
The 26-year-old younger son Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah of conspiring to implicate him in a false case to break the ruling alliance in the state.
“They are bringing cases of 2004 against me. I was 13-14 yr old at that time. Didn’t even have moustache in 2004… Can a boy of 13-14 years indulge in a scam?” he asked after attending a cabinet meeting called by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) rules the state with the RJD and Congress, which together defeated the BJP in the 2015 assembly election.
The RJD-JD(U) ties were strained after Tejashwi and his father were named in a land-for-hotels scandal, and the CBI raided their homes and other properties last week. The JD(U) has asked its partner to come clean amid calls to sack the deputy chief minister.
But Tejashwi dismissed speculation that the state’s ruling alliance is under strain.
“From Day 1, BJP leaders have been trying to break our alliance. The alliance is strong and will continue,” he said.
The first-time minister alleged the BJP started a political conspiracy because of his successful work with the roads department.
“It seems the BJP, which is afraid of my father, is now scared of a 26-year-old too,” he said.
“I have done nothing wrong as the deputy chief minister and have worked relentlessly for the state’s development. How can I be in a scam when I had nothing, not even a moustache, when it allegedly happened?”
His belligerent stand, however, belied the sombre mood at the cabinet meeting that he attended with elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav, the health and environment minister.
“There was hardly any discourse between the CM and his deputy and the meeting was over really fast,” said a top JD(U) cabinet member who didn’t wish to be named.
Congress ministers described the mood as normal and everyone “had tea thereafter”.
The Congress is apparently trying to prevent the crisis escalating into a break-up as the chief minister is said to be upset because his clean image is sullied by the allegations.
Industries minister and JD(U) leader Jai Kumar Singh said his party won’t compromise on its zero-tolerance policy on corruption, but refused comments on calls to sack Tejashwi.
Senior RJD leader and minister Chandra Shekhar said Tejashwi is clean.
“The JD(U) and RJD came together with the Congress and formed the government despite knowing the charges against Lalu Prasad. Why a different norm when the charges (against Tejashwi) are fake?”
BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi challenged the RJD’s stand.
“Tejashwi should say whether the property in the CBI FIR is in his name or not. Saying that he should not be charged for a past irregularity is like saying I can murder but should not be answerable if I am a minister,” he said.