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ED raids Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti’s premises, RJD chief readies Plan B

ED agents searched a Delhi farmhouse and two other properties of Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband.

india Updated: Jul 08, 2017 22:06 IST
Azaan Javaid and Anirban Guha Roy
Azaan Javaid and Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Patna
Lalu Prasad,Misa Bharti,Bihar
Misa Bharti outside her farmhouse in Ghitorni during a raid conducted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials, in New Delhi on Saturday.(PTI Photo)

In fresh trouble for RJD chief Lalu Prasad, Enforcement Directorate agents searched a Delhi farmhouse and two other properties of his daughter Misa Bharti and her husband on Saturday as part of an investigation into alleged corruption by the couple.

This came a day after a series of raids by the CBI on properties linked to Lalu Prasad and his family, who are accused of acquiring wealth through dubious deals, including prime land in Patna as a quid pro quo for hotel maintenance contracts to private firms when he was the railway minister. He denies the charges.

In an early morning swoop, ED officials raided Bharti, a Rajya Sabha MP, and her husband’s premises in Ghitorni, Bijwasan and Sainik Farms areas on the south-western suburb of Delhi. The investigators questioned both about a plot of land they allegedly bought with slush funds.

Last month, Bharti was questioned by income tax officials for more than five hours in connection with alleged dodgy land deals worth more than Rs 1,000-crore.

Saturday’s raids were connected to a corruption probe against two brothers, Surendra and Virendra Jain, who were arrested in March for allegedly using shell companies to legitimise slush funds for others.

One of the firms the Jain brothers dealt with was M/s Mishail Printers and Packers Private Limited. Bharti and her husband, Shailesh Kumar, are alleged to have been directors in this firm.

“Investigation revealed 120,000 shares of Mishail Printers and Packers Private Limited were bought during 2007-08 at a rate of Rs 100 per share by four shell companies,” a senior ED official said.

“The shares were then bought back by Bharti at Rs 10 per share,” the official told Hindustan Times, adding that one of the properties raided on Saturday, a plot of agricultural land near Delhi, was probably purchased using this money.

Plan B for Bihar

The raids on Lalu and his family come at a time when his ties with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar are fraying over the latter’s drift towards rival BJP and its presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind.

On Saturday, the mood at Lalu Prasad’s sprawling home in Patna remained gloomy with anxious relatives and party workers debating the fallout of the raids.

Through the day, Lalu Prasad consulted senior aides and lawyers on how to tackle the raids that he termed political vendetta by the BJP-led government at the Centre.

“Laluji looked all relaxed and talked with us in his usual manner. The CBI raid is a deliberate attempt to demoralise us, but we would not be cowed down,” said Ram Chandra Purbe, the RJD’s state president.

But the party seemed to be planning for political contingency should Lalu Prasad and his son and deputy Bihar chief minister Tejashwi face arrested for their alleged roles in the land-for-hotels scandal.

RJD sources said the party chief was considering his elder son and health minister Tej Pratap as a replacement for Tejashwi.

For now, though, Tejashwi will not resign as deputy chief minister, they said.

First Published: Jul 08, 2017 21:21 IST