A CBI team on Monday questioned former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi at her residence here in connection with a case lodged by the agency pertaining to the period when her husband Lalu Prasad was the Railway Minister.
The CBI contingent came in four cars and reached 10, Circular Road, a stone’s throw from the official residence of the Chief Minister and the Raj Bhavan at around 10.30 AM and spent five hours inside.
CBI headquarters in Delhi maintained that no “search” or “raid” was conducted at the house, in connection with the land for jobs scam for which it has recently received the Centre’s sanction to prosecute Prasad, the RJD president, his wife and some other close members of the family.
Notably, unlike in the past when the house remained sealed whenever a raid was conducted, visitors were allowed during the period.
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Nonetheless, the word “chhapa” and “chhapemari” rent the air and a number of angry supporters reached the high-security locality to register their protest, some of them taking off their clothes in a fit of rage and vowing to “wipe out” (safaaay) the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls next year.
Her elder son Tej Pratap Yadav, a maverick minister who stays a few hundred metres away, rushed to his mother’s place riding a bicycle.
Rabri Devi herself looked unruffled when she emerged from the house after the CBI sleuths left, as she smilingly nodded at the bystanders while her car sped towards the Vidhan Parishad. The ”visit” by the CBI team comes a day after opposition leaders including Tejashwi Yadav wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the government of misusing Central agencies ”to settle scores with Opposition parties”.
Fellow RJD MLC and close aide Sunil Kumar Singh, named as one of the accused in a land for jobs case, was with his benefactor for much of the time CBI slueths were present in her house. Later, he fulminated against the agency, alleging “it is left with less credibility than even local police”.
“About eight to nine people had come. I was left wondering what did they want to achieve. They just whiled away time. I wonder whether they had ccome to have a Holi Milan ahead of the festival”, said Singh.
When pressed to share crucial details, he replied “just remember that in Bihari weddings there is a ritual called Majhakka. The CBI’s antics reminded me of the same. They were at my house a few months ago and they had wasted their time as well as mine”.
RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary, who is often taunted by the BJP for having been one of the complainants in the fodder scam case, convictions in which have disqualified the party supremo from contesting polls, also visited the spot.
“I wonder what is the point in the CBI team coming to this place in connection with irregularities they claim to have taken place in the Railways. The only purpose, in my view, is to humiliate Lalu Prasad which is what the BJP wants”, alleged Tiwary.
“It is not a mere coincidence that the CBI action has come close on the heels of the Mahagathbandhan’s rally where a united opposition’ call was made, in presence of Prasad and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, to dethrone the Narendra Modi government”, he added.
Tejashwi Yadav, the Deputy CM and Rabri Devi’s son, who was allowed to leave the premises and visit the Vidhan Sabha, vented spleen while replying to queries from journalists.
“I have said it many times that the CBI should open its office at my residence. It will make it convenient for the agency”, he remarked sarcastically, adding “examples of Ajit Pawar in Maharashtra and Mukul Roy in West Bengal bear testimony to the fact that political figures in the country come under attack, or get reprieve, from central agencies based upon their stance against the BJP”.
BJP leaders in the state, however, rubbished allegations of political vendetta.
Party leaders like Nitin Nabin and Jibesh Kumar Mishra, both former ministers, claimed Prasad and his family were “reaping what they have sown”.