(News Trust of India): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has just issued fresh summonses to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo, Lalu Prasad, and his son, Tejashwi Yadav, who currently serves as the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar. The summons pertains to their appearance for interrogation at the ED’s Patna office in connection with an alleged money laundering case relating to railways land-for-jobs. Official sources stated that Prasad is slated to depose on January 29, while Tejashwi has been summoned for the following day.
A federal agency delegation visited the official residence of Rabri Devi, Prasad’s wife and former Bihar Chief Minister, to deliver the summonses. Both father and son are needed to present themselves at the Enforcement Directorate headquarters on Bank Road in the capital city of Bihar. Interestingly, these summonses were issued on the same day both Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav met with their alliance partner, Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Responding to concerns of a potential conflict within the coalition, Tejashwi dismissed them as disconnected from “ground reality.” Notably, both Prasad and Tejashwi have earlier missed ED’s summonses issued in Delhi, alleging their engagement in political and official tasks as the cause for non-compliance. However, Tejashwi did make an appearance before the agency in the national capital last year.
The alleged controversy stretches back to the period when Lalu Prasad held the position of Railway Minister in the UPA-1 government. On January 9, the ED issued a charge sheet in the railroads land-for-jobs money laundering case, embracing Lalu Prasad’s family members, including Rabri Devi, RJD MP Misa Bharti, and Hema Yadav. RJD Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha slammed the ED’s actions as “vendetta politics,” accusing the BJP of manipulating investigative agencies against opposition parties.
Jha stated that in states where the BJP faced political weakness, these entities were deployed to buttress its standing. Describing it as politics of harassment and torture, he branded the ED’s charge sheet as the embodiment of vendetta politics. The money laundering case, filed under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), started from a complaint lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had earlier filed a charge sheet in the same matter.
In October, a trial judge granted bail to Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, and Tejashwi Yadav in the CBI case. The CBI’s charges focus around the non-issuance of advertising or public notices for appointments, with persons from Patna reportedly getting positions in various zonal railways. The quid pro quo stated that these candidates, either directly or through their immediate family members, sold land to Prasad’s family at greatly discounted rates, much below the usual market rates.
Assets worth approximately Rs 6 crore, belonging to Rabri Devi, Misa Bharti, and connected entities, were attached by the ED last year as part of its probe. The agency conducted raids in numerous places, including the premises of Chanda Yadav, Ragini Yadav, Hema Yadav, and Abu Dojana in Patna, Phulwari Sharif, Delhi-NCR, Ranchi, and Mumbai in March 2023.