Nitish Kumar Reacts To CBI, ED Action Against Lalu, Tejashwi Yadav: 'Similar Things Happened In 2017 When...'
CBI earlier this week questioned Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi, while ED conducted raids on houses of their three daughters and a daughter-in-law.
Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday hinted that he agreed with the contention of ally RJD that the recent crackdown on its president Lalu Prasad and his family members by the CBI and ED was "politically motivated". This was in contrast to the stand he took in 2017 when he had wanted the ally to come clean on charges of corruption. The JD(U) leader also rubbished speculations that he was maintaining an eloquent silence on the issue because of anxieties about tarnishing his own image for probity by aligning with "tainted" politicians and could even be thinking of breaking away with the "Mahagathbandhan", which besides RJD, also includes Congress and the Left. Kumar was approached with queries by journalists who wanted to know about his views on the questioning of Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi by CBI earlier this week, followed by raids conducted on a number of premises, including houses of his three daughters and a daughter-in-law by ED on Friday and a fresh summons issued by the CBI to the younger son and Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav.
"What do I have to say, those who are at the receiving end are giving an adequate response," said Kumar in his trademark enigmatic style, before adding, "similar things happened in 2017 when I was on this side (in the anti-BJP camp). Now that I am here again, these things are happening again."
The allusion was to the land for hotels case in which the ED had named, along with others, Yadav, who was the Deputy CM then as well, and Kumar recalled having asked the young RJD leader to "explain" his side of the story and the BJP having exploited the situation to its advantage.
Kumar was understood to have asked Yadav to resign his ministerial berth on moral grounds for the period till his name was cleared, a proposition to which the RJD did not agree. The JD(U) leader himself resigned as chief minister, in disgust, and the BJP, his former ally, came with the offer of unconditional support.
Subsequently, Kumar formed a new government with the BJP, in less than 24 hours of resigning.
"I do not wish to take any names because the person (in BJP) who came to me with the offer of support may get further marginalised in his party," said Kumar, but dropped his guard when journalists found the clue and mentioned former Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi.
#WATCH | Patna: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar speaks on Central agencies' raids on Opposition leaders, incl Tejashwi Yadav.
He says, "...This happened in 2017. Then we (JDU-RJD) went our separate ways...5 yrs went by & when we came together, raids occurred again. What can I say?..." pic.twitter.com/upCjO56ali — ANI (@ANI) March 11, 2023
"What do I say about Sushil Kumar Modi? I need not repeat that I never wanted him to suffer his current fate. But he is welcome to keep speaking against me. Maybe it will resurrect him politically," said Kumar, visibly upset over the tirade against himself by the former deputy ever since he dumped the BJP in August last year.
Kumar also made light of his JD(U) not being a signatory to the recent letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in protest against CBI arresting Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, and said, "I will be there when all parties (opposed to BJP) agree to unitedly fight the next Lok Sabha polls."
The JD(U) chief, however, reiterated, "I have no (prime ministerial) ambitions for myself. I had made it clear even at the recent convention of CPIML(L) where all constituents of the Mahagathbandhan were present. I had even asked the Congress to take the lead in forging oppositional unity."
To a pointed question as to whether he could think of pulling out of the "opposition camp" because of corruption cases against leaders of most non-NDA parties, he exclaimed, "The question does not arise."
'Rumours': Tejashwi Yadav on ED claims that Rs 600 cr 'proceeds of crime' detected during raids
Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday dubbed as "rumours" the claim of the Enforcement Directorate that proceeds of crime amounting to Rs 600 crore were detected during searches on premises owned by him and close family members. The RJD leader, who is currently away in Delhi beside his wife who is expecting their first child, also said the BJP will be left embarrassed if he made public the "panchnama" (seizure list) signed after the raids.
"Just recall, in 2007, transactions worth Rs 8,000 crore, including a mall and hundreds of land plots, were alleged", tweeted Yadav, in an obvious reference to the alleged land-for-hotels scam pertaining to his father Lalu Prasad's tenure as the railway minister.
Now facing the heat in the land-for-jobs 'scam' pertaining to, roughly, the same period, Yadav also recalled his name being linked to a mall seized in Gurugram, which turned out to be owned by a private company.
The RJD had threatened legal action against media outlets for "wrongly" reporting that Yadav, the party supremo's son and heir apparent, owned the commercial establishment.
"The BJP government (at the Centre) spreading rumours again, quoting sources. It should have asked its spin doctors to first settle the account on the previous operations, before coming up with the new tale of Rs 600 crore", the RJD leader said.
Earlier on Saturday, the Enforcement Directorate said it has seized "unaccounted cash" of Rs 1 crore and "detected proceeds of crime worth Rs 600 crore" after it raided RJD chief Lalu Prasad's family in connection with a money laundering case linked to the railways land-for-jobs 'scam'.
"Let them make public the panchnama (seizure list) signed after the raids. If we do so on our own, think of the embarrassment that these BJP leaders will have to face", added Yadav, who peppered his two tweets with quite a few smileys to assert that he was taking it all on the chin.
भाजपा सरकार द्वारा सूत्रों के हवाले से इधर-उधर की भ्रामक अफवाह फैलाने अथवा खबर प्लांट करवाने की बजाय रेड के बाद हस्ताक्षर किए जाने वाले पंचनामे (Seizure List) की सूची ही सावर्जनिक कर देनी चाहिए।
अगर हम इसे सार्वजनिक कर देंगे तो इन बेचारे नेताओं की क्या इज्जत रहेगी? सोच लो..— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) March 11, 2023
The ED had launched raids on Friday at multiple locations linked to Prasad's family members, including that of his son Tejashwi in Delhi.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had recently questioned Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi -- former chief ministers of Bihar -- in the case.