- Raids at 20 places in and around Delhi today
- Tax officials allege Lalu, children own property worth 1,000 crores
- Lalu says government targeting him because of his criticism
The raids were conducted by nearly 100 tax officials and policemen. For weeks, the BJP in Bihar has released documents that it says establishes Lalu's guilt in using his earlier terms as Chief Minister of Bihar and Union Railways Minister to collect prize real estate for his children, two of whom are ministers in the government of Nitish Kumar.
Lalu, as he is called by supporters, tweeted that there's a conspiracy to ensure he cannot hold the rally he has announced for August to unite parties who are opposed to the BJP. "Haha.My name is Lalu& I pity 4 such intimidators (sic)", he wrote.
"People and businessmen connected to land deals involving Lalu Yadav and his family are being searched. There are allegations of benami (proxy) deals worth about Rs 1,000 crore and subsequent tax evasion," a senior unnamed official was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
The raids come hours after the Bihar Chief Minister said in Delhi that if the BJP or central government has evidence of his partner's corruption, it should take action. This was Mr Kumar's first comment on the allegations against Lalu which have been swirling for nearly six weeks.
The BJP last week accused Lalu who is 68, his daughter Misa Bharti who is a parliamentarian, and his two sons, Tejashwai and Tej Pratap Yadav, who are ministers in Mr Kumar's government, of prime roles in corrupt land deals in Patna, Delhi and other cities.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that many plots owned by the Yadavs were bought and transferred to the family by firms who were awarded contracts by Lalu when he was in office. In 2013, he was barred from holding public office after being convicted of corruption in a case dating to the 90s when he was Chief Minister of Bihar.
Lalu has not denied that his children now own real estate including a two-acre plot being developed as Bihar's biggest mall on the outskirts of Patna, or a large house in Delhi's fancy Friends Colony, but says that these assets have been disclosed in election documents. The BJP says that is not the case and that the companies that own these land parcels have no employees, turnover or business activity.