The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is "examining" the reference received from the Railways Ministry to investigate the “land-for-jobs scandal” that involves damning charges against former Railways Minister Lalu Prasad.
As first reported by HT on Thursday, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee (54) had ordered a CBI investigation into allegations that — against a promise of jobs and contract in the Railways — poor farmers transferred their properties in the names of Prasad's close associates and relatives.
"Based on the complaint of an honourable Member of Parliament of a political party, the CBI received a communication yesterday from the Railways Ministry. It is being looked into", CBI spokesman Harsh Bahl said.
Meanwhile, Banerjee indicated this might not be the last time that she would refer complaints to the CBI.
Asked about the HT report, she said her ministry might refer allegations of irregularities in recruitment during the tenure of her predecessor to an "outside agency".
"If necessary, allegations of irregularities in Railway Recruitment Boards and Railway Recruitment Committees would be referred to an outside agency," she said.
Responding to the development, Prasad said: "Let Banerjee do what she wants. I have done nothing wrong and I am not afraid of the CBI."
The memorandum also alleged to procedural gaps in the allotment of Public Private Partnership contract for the makeover of two prime railway properties to a company owned by Sarla Gupta, wife of senior RJD leader and former union minister Premchand Gupta.
"We bagged the contract because we were the highest bidders. The tendering process was impartial and transparent", Gupta said.