Modi’s office tipped off Nitish about CBI raid on Lalu Prasad
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was told about the raids on Lalu Prasad and his family after the CBI informed the PMO that it feared trouble during their search.india Updated: Jul 08, 2017 11:37 IST
In a late night call on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office told Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar that federal agents were about to raid his deputy Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad over an alleged land-for-hotels scandal.
Government officials said Kumar was informed after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which carried out the raids on Friday, told the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that it feared trouble while searching the homes and properties of Lalu and his son Tejashwi.
“The CBI officials in charge of the investigation expressed apprehensions of law and order problem during the raids, (and) hence asked the PMO to inform the Bihar government,” said one of the officials with knowledge of the development.
Senior Bihar government officials confirmed the tip off from the PMO, saying they were asked to be ready to tackle any violent protest.
“I was told to be on standby yesterday late night. I was not told any reason but was asked to review security arrangements and prepare for crowd control,” a top police officer in Bihar told HT.
All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity either because of the sensitivity of the matter or they were not authorised to speak to journalists.
K C Tyagi, Rajya Sabha member and national spokesperson for Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) or JD (U) denied having any such knowledge.
“This is a conspiracy to defame Nitish Kumar. Is the PMO running the CBI for them to know about the raids? The chief minister is unwell and not commenting on this issue,” he said.
Nitish Kumar travelled to Rajgir on Thursday afternoon, apparently to recover from a bout of illness. His office gave no reason for his travel.
Kumar’s political opponents offered two explanations for his staying away from Patna: To avoid meeting the Congress-led opposition presidential candidate Meira Kumar, and possible advance information about the raids on his alliance partners.
In 2015, Nitish Kumar’s JD (U), the Congress and Kumar’s long standing bête noire Lalu Prasad cobbled a grand alliance or “mahagatbandhan” and formed the government in Bihar.
The CBI raid has come at a time when the relationship among the allies has plummeted to the lowest ebb since 2015 state polls.
Cracks in this political experiment, once seen as an alternative to the BJP, came out in the open when Nitish Kumar decided to back BJP’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind instead of the combined opposition candidate Meira Kumar, who hails from Bihar.
Kumar’s party also refused to heed the opposition call for a boycott of the late night parliament event for the launch of the Goods and Service Tax.
Two days ago, Nitish Kumar lashed out at the Congress for failing to bridge differences within the opposition and offer a credible narrative against the BJP.