Relief in IRCTC scam may give RJD fresh lease of life

Relief in IRCTC scam may give RJD fresh lease of life

Tejashwi Prasad Yadav (C) son of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, comes out of Patiala House court after appearing before a special court in the (IRCTC) tender scam case, in New Delhi on Friday. PTI

Two days before he snapped ties with the RJD which eventually led to the collapse of Grand Alliance government in Bihar in July 2017, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar summoned Tejashwi to his official chamber in the CM secretariat.

Tejashwi, then the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, was under pressure from the JD (U) to either relinquish his post or explain his ‘complicity’ in the IRCTC scam (also known as land-for-hotel scam).

When Tejashwi came face-to-face with Nitish, he pleaded innocence and said he was not guilty in the ‘fabricated’ case as he was barely 14-15 years of age when the alleged transfer of Railway hotels (to private players) took place.

But Nitish decided enough was enough. He snapped ties with Lalu’s RJD and dumped the Grand Alliance alleging that he could not continue with someone whose name figured in the IRCTC scam.

More than a year later today, on August 31, the CBI court (in Patiala House) took barely 10 minutes to grant bail to Tejashwi, his mother and former chief minister Rabri Devi and other accused. The CBI did not even oppose their bail plea in a case which eventually had led to the downfall of a duly-elected Grand Alliance government (which got a brute majority in 2015 Assembly poll).

While the case may drag on, and the accused may even appear as and when summoned, the RJD leaders will now henceforth claim that they had been saying right from day one that Lalu and his family members had been framed for speaking against the Narendra Modi government.

“We have always maintained from day one that Tejashwi had been a victim of political vendetta. A young leader, who has proved his mettle, Tejashwi’s graph is on the ascendancy. That’s why attempts are being made to stop him in his track. But we have full faith in the judiciary. And we will eventually get justice. Both in the court of law as well as in the people’s court,” RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary told DH here on Friday.

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-I.

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 has named 14 persons in its charge sheet, also named Kochars, Prem Gupta and his wife Sarla Gupta for being hand in glove in the scam.

All the accused got bail on Friday (August 31).