PATNA: The grant to bail to key RJD players Rabri Devi and her son Tejashwi Yadav in the land-for-railway hotel scam has given a fresh lease of life to the RJD which leads the “Magagathbandhan” or Grand Alliance in Bihar.
Rabri Devi, also former chief minister, is wife of incarcerated RJD president Lalu Prasad whereas Tejashwi who has served as deputy chief minister in the previous Grand Alliance government, is Prasad’s younger son.
Shortly after being sent to jail in the multi-million dollar fodder scam, Prasad had appointed his wife as party vice-president to keep an eye on the party affairs. She was handed over the new responsibility in February this year.
Prior to that, Prasad groomed his younger son Tejashwi whom he later declared as his “political heir” to run the party in his absence.
The RJD chief suddenly got caught in a quite difficult situation when both were later made accused in the railway hotel scandal along with himself. In April this year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the case even filed charge-sheet against them.
The RJD which is the major opposition party in Bihar enjoying huge support base among the backwards and Muslims appeared going “headless” at one point of time for this very reason.
But for the Delhi court denying bail to Prasad family, it would really have created the leadership crisis for the RJD with Prasad himself in jail too.
This could have left the party literally headless and virtually creating a fight in the Lalu family to grab the party leadership. The grant of bail by the court, however, has temporarily saved the RJD from going into that position.
Prasad and his family have also been charged by the country’s premier investigating agency with getting three acres of land plot from the hoteliers in lieu of giving favour to them in awarding tenders. The tenders were given while Prasad served as the federal railway minister in the previous United Progressive Alliance government.
According to the Central Bureau of Invetsigation, the three acres-land lot which valued at Rs 320 million was given for mere Rs 5.4 million to RJD chief family.
“The allegation is that between 2004 and 2014, a conspiracy was hatched by which two hotels of the railways – located in Puri and Ranchi – were first transferred to IRCTC and for operations, management and upkeep given on a lease to the private Sujata Hotels Private Limited of Patna,” additional director, CBI, Rakesh Asthana told the media in New Delhi last year at the time of the case being registered.
The CBI inquiry claimed to have found gross irregularities in the award of the entire contract. “The inquiry has prima facie revealed that Lalu Prasad Yadav (his official name is Lalu Prasad) while serving as minister of railways and his family members in conspiracy with other accused persons abused his official position for causing undue favour to Kochhars (Vijay and Vinay Kochhars—both directors of M/s Sujata Hotel Private Limited) and in pursuance thereof, a high value premium land was acquired through their benami company M/s DMCL (Delight Marketing Company Limited) on consideration which was much less than the fair market price and as quid pro quo, dishonestly and fraudulently managed award of BNRs (heritage hotels of Indian railways) at Ranchi and Puri to the company of Kochhars,” said a CBI report.