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Land-for-job Case: Demand Grows in Bihar for Nitish Kumar to Withdraw General Consent to CBI and ED

Politics in Bihar is heated after the ED and CBI last week quizzed and raided houses related to Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rabri Devi, Tejashwi Yadav, and others.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar. Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), part of the ruling alliance in Bihar, on Tuesday accused the BJP-led Centre of being behind the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) targeting Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rabri Devi, Tejashwi Yadav, his sisters and others in an alleged land-for-job scam case probe and demanded Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to withdraw general consent to the CBI and the ED. It urged the state government to enact a law to make it mandatory for central agencies to get prior consent from the state government to conduct any raids or probes.

Politics in Bihar is heating up after the ED and CBI last week quizzed and raided houses related to RJD chief Lalu Prasad, his wife and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi, RJD leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, RJD former MLA Abu Dojana and three daughters of Lalu and others closed to him.

Protests and a war of words are ongoing between the RJD and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inside and outside the state Assembly over the CBI and ED raids in several cities, including Patna and Delhi. Amid this, senior RJD leader Bhai Birendra demanded that CM Nitish Kumar stop central agency entry without prior permission from the state government.

Birendra told NewsClick that he had written a letter to the CM demanding a law be enacted to make it mandatory for the CBI and the ED to get prior consent of the state government in order to put a check on the misuse of central agencies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. 

“Look, the BJP government has been using the CBI, ED and IT department to target opposition leaders across the country ahead of the 2024 general elections; this is a clear case of political vendetta. The latest round of CBI and ED raids at the residences of Lalu-Rabri-Tejashwi is part of a design to harass them for fighting against the BJP and exposing them in public. The BJP is using central agencies to silence the Opposition, particularly in those states where it is sure not to perform well in 2024. But we are not scared of such raids and our leader Laluji will unite the Opposition to defeat the BJP,” Birendra said.

Birendra said the state government should approve the proposal and pass it in the current state Assembly session. He said he had raised the issue in the state Assembly on Monday as well as on Tuesday to withdraw the general consent to CBI and ED. “About eight states, including West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Kerala, have already withdrawn consent to the CBI to investigate. Bihar should follow them and make a law for prior consent of the state government mandatory for conducting probes or raids,” he said.

Soon after Nitish Kumar had dumped Janata Dal-United’s alliance with the BJP and joined hands with the Mahagathbandhan and formed the new government in the state in August last year, the RJD demanded the same.

In the last two days, after Holi (Hindu festival of colours), RJD leaders, including MLAs in the state Assembly, staged protests against the CBI and ED raids and blamed BJP for them during the ongoing budget session 

Tejashwi on Monday claimed that the ED got nothing from his house in Delhi during the raids and dared the central agency to make public the seizure list. “We will not be cowed down by such actions. BJP is desperate to defame the Opposition (at the Centre) as it is afraid of the next Lok Sabha polls,” he said.

Bihar Minister Zaman Khan, who is a senior JD-U leader, supported RJD leaders and told the media on Tuesday that CM Kumar will take a decision on the demands raised by Birendra.

RJD’s allies JD-U, Congress, the Left parties, and HAM also criticised the CBI-ED raids and attacked the BJP-led central government. None other than CM Kumar said that the raids happened whenever he joined hands with the RJD. “Raids happened in 2017 and again and again after, since we came together in August last year,” he said.

JD-U national president Lalan Singh defended Tejashwi and termed the raids as a part of an undeclared Emergency in the country. “The BJP is afraid of opposition unity and is targeting opposition leaders,” he said, adding that, “It appears the CBI and ED will contest the next Lok Sabha for BJP the way the central government has been using them against the Opposition.”

The latest CBI and ED actions came after a Delhi court last month issued a summon to Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, Misa Bharti and 14 others in the case to appear before the court on March 15.

It also comes a day after the Opposition, including the RJD, wrote a letter to PM Modi on the “misuse” of central agencies against the Opposition.

In May 2022, the CBI raided 16 premises linked to Lalu Prasad Yadav in connection with the case. At the time, CBI also searched multiple locations in Delhi and Bihar after initiating a preliminary inquiry on September 23, 2021, into the charges that several persons were appointed as substitutes to Group-D posts in exchange for seven land parcels in Patna. These land parcels, according to the charges, were allegedly acquired by Lalu Prasad’s family when he was the Union Railway Minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Later, in July 2022, the CBI arrested RJD leader Bhola Yadav, who was the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) of Lalu Prasad when the latter was the Railway Minister. The CBI filed a chargesheet in October 2022 with criminal conspiracy and corruption offences against 17 accused persons.

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