Bail in IRCTC scam may help Tejashwi settle scores

Former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi with her son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav coming out from Patiala House court in (IRCTC) tender scam case, in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

The bail granted by the Patiala House court in New Delhi to former chief minister Rabri Devi and her son Tejashwi Yadav in the IRCTC scam on Saturday has come as a huge relief to Lalu’s family.

Slapped with multiple legal cases, the IRCTC scam assumes all the more significance for Lalu Prasad and his family members as it was this case which led to the downfall of grand alliance government in Bihar in July 2017.

When the investigating agencies, including the CBI and Income Tax department sleuths, raided the residence of Rabri Devi last year, the then deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav was eventually named as an accused.  Nitish summoned his deputy and asked him to either relinquish his post ‘on his own’ or explain his ‘innocence’ publicly.

When neither happened, Nitish walked to the Raj Bhawan on July 26 and put in his papers informing the governor that he had dumped the grand alliance. Within hours, he formed another government with the help of BJP, alleging that he cannot work with those charged with corruption.

More than a year later, Tejashwi has got relief in the scam in which he always maintained he had no role to play as this episode took place when he was a 14-year-old boy. He may now use the court relief to settle scores with his bete noire Nitish in the days to come.

What is IRCTC scam?

In June 2017, Lalu was charged with handing over the running of IRCTC hotels in Ranchi and Puri to Sujata Hotels Pvt Ltd after allegedly receiving prime land in Patna through 'benami' company when he was railway minister in UPA government.

This land (for a shopping mall) was reportedly transferred by industrialists Harsh and Vinay Kochar (owners of Sujata Hotels) to Delight Marketing Pvt Ltd, owned by the then RJD Rajya Sabha MP Prem Gupta, a Lalu confidant, in 2005.

The ‘deal’ was done after the Kochar brothers were awarded two hotels belonging to Railways at Ranchi (Jharkhand) and Puri (Odisha) during Lalu’s tenure (from 2004 to 2009) as Railway Minister. Eventually, the Delight Marketing Pvt Ltd was transferred to Lalu’s family along with the assets in 2014 and renamed as LaRa Projects (an acronym for Lalu and Rabri) in 2016.

The CBI, which named 14 persons in its chargesheet, also named Kochars, Prem Gupta and his wife Sarla Gupta for being hand in glove in the scam.

Except for Lalu Prasad, who is recuperating at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi after being convicted in fodder scam, all the other accused appeared before the court on Saturday and got bail.

“We always had full faith in the judiciary. And we were hopeful that we will get justice,” RJD vice-president and former Rajya Sabha member Shivanand Tiwari told Deccan Herald.

Senior BJP leader and Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, however, said that Rabri and Tejashwi had not been acquitted. “They have merely got bail,” he averred.

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Bail in IRCTC scam may help Tejashwi settle scores

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