The Jharkhand government on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into a phone call allegedly made by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav to a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA, asking him to abstain from voting during the election for the post of the Speaker in the Bihar Assembly, reported PTI.
“Ranchi deputy commissioner, senior superintendent of police and Birsa Munda Central Jail superintendent were asked to ascertain the veracity of the allegations and submit a report,” said Jharkhand Inspector General (Prison) Birendra Bhushan, according to the Hindustan Times.
Bhushan said he ordered the inquiry after listening to the purported audio clip of the conversation between Yadav and the MLA. Jail manuals do not allow using phones when in judicial custody, he said, adding that if the allegations were found true, another inquiry would be set up to ascertain where the mobile phone came from and who was responsible for it.
The inspector general said that the RJD chief was in the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences Director’s bungalow with the permission of the Ranchi district administration. He said that the district administration takes a call on visitors and other matters related to Yadav.
A public interest litigation has already been filed in the Jharkhand High Court, seeking a proper examination of Yadav’s ailment to send him back to the jail.
The inquiry was initiated after former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi had on Wednesday claimed that Yadav had called the legislator, Pirpainti MLA Lalan Paswan, asking him to support the Grand Alliance during the election to the Speaker. In a tweet, Modi had said that he asked Yadav to refrain from “these dirty tricks” and shared a mobile number that he claimed the jailed politician was using.
The BJP leader also tweeted an audio clip, where a voice purportedly of Yadav, can be heard asking the other person to side with the Opposition during the election, which was held on Wednesday. The clip has not been independently verified.
Modi accused Yadav of attempting to poach National Democratic Alliance MLAs by “promising ministerial berths”. However, RJD spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwary said the allegations were baseless and concocted.
Yadav has been in jail since December 2017 after being convicted in multiple cases in the fodder scam that was exposed in 1996, involving the embezzlement of around Rs 1,000 crore from the state exchequer for the purchase of fictitious medicines and fodder for cattle. He was the chief minister of the state at the time. He has served most of his jail sentence in Jharkhand at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in Ranchi.