Terming allegations that he misused his official position as railways minister to help his relatives acquire land as "baseless" and "false propaganda" to tarnish his image, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad said the Bihar government was suffering from "Lalu phobia".
“They (the ruling National Democratic Alliance in Bihar) are all suffering from Lalu phobia despite the fact that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD - Lalu Prasad's party) was ousted from power in Bihar in 2005,” said Lalu Prasad.
He was reacting to demands by the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and its partner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh order a probe into the alleged land-for-job scam in the railways and remove him as minister.
"I am sure that I and my party are giving sleepless nights to the NDA. It is the reason why the NDA leaders keep harping that the RJD will not be able to win even one seat in the coming parliamentary elections,” he said.
”It is part of a conspiracy to defame me just before the parliamentary elections.”
Television news channel IBN7 last Sunday showed Lalu Prasad purportedly misusing his official position to acquire land for his family and relatives. The channel said it had conducted a sting operation for over a year.
The channel said its investigation showed that Lalu Prasad had bought land worth several million rupees for his relatives from those who aspired for jobs in the railways.
Lalu Prasad refuted the allegations saying it was the handiwork of the state's NDA to defame him.
"I have given all details to the income tax department. All property that I possess is in the knowledge of the income tax department, a copy of which is also with the prime minister and the government of India. My detractors are welcome to re-check their facts," Lalu Prasad said.
Lalan Singh, president of the JD-U Bihar unit, came out with a document of over 500 pages Tuesday in a bid to add credence to the sting operation. He said: "After the fodder scam Lalu Prasad has not changed. This is another big scam in the making."
He alleged that Lalu Prasad had been on a land grab spree since he became railways minister. "The market value of the land acquired through various means, be it in lieu of job or giving railways property on lease or accepting land as gift, would be more than Rs.100 crore (Rs.1.billion)," he said.