The Big Story: Corruption charges
The grand ruling alliance in Bihar, consisting of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (United) and the Congress, has been under severe strain since the Central Bureau of Investigation last week filed a First Information Report in a corruption case involving Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and his son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav.
The CBI alleged that Lalu Yadav abused his position as Union railway minister between 2004 and 2009 to acquire prime plots of land in Patna as a quid pro quo for helping a company take over the management of an Indian Railways hotel.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded the resignation of Tejashwi Prasad, who is now the deputy chief minister of Bihar, and has even offered to support the Janata Dal (United) if the Rashtriya Janata Dal decides to exit the alliance.
The response from the Yadavs has been predictable: Lalu Yadav chose to deflect the issue with conspiracy theories, claiming that no wrong was done when he was the Union railways minister and that he was being targeted for his campaign against the BJP’s communal agenda. He added his son, who has been named as an accused, was only 14 years old when the alleged corruption took place in 2005. Tejashwi, for his part, parroted his father’s views on Wednesday, stating that he had not even grown a mustache in 2005, let alone being old enough to commit fraud.
However, this efence crumbles in the face of facts. While the foundation for the corruption may have been laid when Tejashwi was very young, the actual benefits of this crime was reaped by the Yadavs much later, in 2014. According to the FIR, it was in 2014 that the Yadavs, through a web of benami transactions, took over the company that acquired the prime plots in Patna in 2006 as a quid pro quo for rigging a tender process. Tejashwi would go on to become the deputy chief minister a year later.
When the alliance stormed to power in 2015, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar promised a clean government. To have a young deputy chief minister facing serious charges of corruption is an embarrassment that could help the BJP split the alliance. On Tuesday, Nitish Kumar reportedly gave the Yadavs four days to come clean on their charges. Though it is clear that the BJP is using the CBI case to drive a wedge in the alliance and destabilise the Bihar government, it is also important that Tejashwi Yadav, for the sake of probity, faces the investigations without holding any position of power to salvage the image of the government and the alliance.
The Big Scroll
- The CBI case against Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members.
- How the corruption scandal that has hit the Yadavs has created a rift in the top leadership of the JD(U).
- Sandeep Dwivedi in the Indian Express argues that the process to select the new head coach of the Indian cricket team turned into a circus, undermining the credibility of those involved.
- K Thangaraj and G Chaubey in The Hindu say that the Aryan migration question is far from being satisfactorily answered.
- Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times explains the latest scandal that has hit the Trump administration, with an email leak showing that Donald Trump Jr. was in contact with the Russians during the election campaign last year.
TA Ameerudheen reports on why the family of the murdered Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist in Dakshina Kannada thanked a Muslim shop owner.
“‘Praveen called two more shopkeepers to the spot,’ he told Scroll.in. ‘Sharath was lying in a pool of blood and our immediate task was to rush him to the hospital. We pleaded with all the vehicles that came that way, including the local autorickshaw drivers, to take him to the hospital. But all our requests fell on deaf ears.’
Rahouf decided to bring out his own old autorickshaw, which he used to ferry fruit from the market.”