CBI questions Rabri Devi, Opposition parties attack government

It was alleged that the BJP was misusing the investigative agencies as the party was on a sticky wicket for the coming 2024 Lok Sabha polls

Update: 2023-03-07 02:15 GMT
Security personnel deployed outside the residence of former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi during a visit of CBI officials in connection with further probe in the land for jobs scam case, in Patna, Monday, (PTI Photo

PATNA: A huge political storm erupted after CBI officials on Monday visited former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi’s residence to quiz her over the “land for jobs scam”. As the CBI grilled the former Bihar CM for around four hours, members of Bihar’s Grand Alliance were up in arms, claiming that the Central investigative agencies had become a tool of “political vendetta” under the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

It was alleged that the BJP was misusing the investigative agencies as the party was on a sticky wicket for the coming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

This development comes a day after top Opposition leaders, including Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, sent a letter to the Prime Minister over the alleged “misuse” of the Central agencies following the arrest of AAP leader Manish Sisodia in the liquor scam case.

After the CBI reached Rabri Devi’s residence, Tejashwi Yadav reacted strongly and said he had anticipated the scenario during the formation of the Grand Alliance in August last year. “I had earlier predicted that these people (BJP) will do this. We face such things almost every month and are also aware that this will continue till 2024. There is a hearing on March 15, which is a normal procedure”.

Former Bihar CM Rabri Devi was questioned by CBI officials for almost four hours in the presence of her legal adviser.

Reports suggest that the CBI may also question RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his daughter Misa Bharti at their residence in New Delhi on Tuesday. The officials might also ask for documents related to the case from the Lalu Yadav family, sources said. Yadav had recently returned from Singapore after undergoing a kidney transplant and is now recovering at his daughter’s residence in New Delhi.

In New Delhi, the Opposition launched a scathing attack on the Centre over the “misuse of agencies” after the CBI grilled Rabri Devi. The Congress alleged that the ruling party at the Centre wants to “suppress” the voice of the Opposition. An AICC general secretary alleged that Opposition leaders who are not ready to bow before the BJP are “harassed” through the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI. “Today Rabri Devi ji is being harassed. Lalu Prasad ji and his family have been harassed for years because they did not bow down,” Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a tweet in Hindi.

In Patna, the RJD and other Grand Alliance leaders, including the Congress, say the BJP has been “misusing” Central agencies to frame Opposition leaders for “political gains” ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

They said “the BJP at the Centre is scared of the rising graph of the Grand Alliance in Bihar. They are also upset over the RJD’s effort to unite Opposition leaders ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Misusing Central agencies will not help them in the 2024 parliamentary elections”.

On February 27, Delhi’s Rouse Avenue court had issued a summons against former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Bihar CM Rabri Devi, their daughter Misa Bharti and 14 others over the “land for jobs scam”. The summons was issued to the accused persons for March 15. The CBI had earlier filed a charge sheetagainst them in connection with the case. The scam allegedly occurred when Lalu Prasad Yadav was the railway minister in 2004-09. Yadav and others were allegedly given land from people in lieu of jobs in the railways.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the visit by the CBI team at Rabri Devi’s residence as “humiliating”. He said: “This is wrong, raids like these are humiliating. It is becoming a trend, that wherever there are Opposition governments, they won’t be allowed to function. They (BJP) use the ED, CBI and governors to trouble them. Democracy will go ahead only when everyone will work together, whoever has a government should be allowed to work there.”

Senior advocate and Rajya Sabha member Kapil Sibal also pointed to the “fragile health” of Lalu Prasad Yadav. “CBI heat on Lalu. We all know the fragile state of his health. To pressure Tejashvi. The more the government does this the more the people will turn against this government,” Sibal tweeted.

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