New Delhi, Patna:
Weeks after he was granted bail in a fodder scam case, Lalu Prasad Yadav has been charged in a fresh corruption case over alleged irregularities in recruitment between 2004 and 2009 when he was Railway Minister.
Besides Mr Yadav, his wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Misa Bharti and other family members have been named accused in the new case, sources said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today started searches at 15 locations linked to the Rashtriya Janata Dal patriarch, including his residences.
In the new case, the CBI has alleged that Mr Yadav and his family members received land and properties as bribe for giving out railway jobs.
The 73-year-old veteran leader walked out of jail last month after the Jharkhand High Court granted him bail in the Rs 139 crore Doranda Treasury scam case. A CBI special court had in February sentenced him to five years in prison in the case. He was also fined Rs 60 lakh.
The treasury scam case was the fifth fodder scam case in which Mr Yadav was convicted.
Visuals showed police personnel at the Patna residence of Mr Yadav's wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi during the raids this morning.
RJD legislator Dr Mukesh Roshan said Mr Yadav is in Delhi and his son and party leader Tejashwi Yadav is also away. "Those in power are targeting Lalu Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav because they are aware of their popularity," he alleged.
Senior party leader Alok Mehta said, "This is an attempt to finish off the Opposition. There is no basis for these cases. This is an attempt to silence criticism."
Shivanand Tiwary, senior RJD leader who has also worked with JD(U) has said the CBI's move to dig out an old case against the RJD patriarch could be a warning to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
"The BJP is getting uneasy about Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav coming together on the demand for a case Census. The timing of these raids points to this. Otherwise, why has the CBI suddenly taken up this case at a time when Nitish Kumar is set to call an all-party meeting on the demand for caste Census," Mr Tiwary said.
The RJD tweeted from its official handle that numerous raids have been conducted in connection with the "so-called Railway scam" but nothing has been found.
"Lalu ji was Railway Minister from 2004 to 2009. If the CBI needs to conduct raids 13 years later, then you can understand what a nasty agency it is. The Lalu family will not bow and get scared," the tweet in Hindi said.
BJP leader and MP Sushik Modi termed Mr Yadav and his family "a symbol of corruption in Bihar" and alleged that the RJD leader's "modus operandi" was to lure the people seeking jobs in exchange for land.
"The modus operandi was that you give me land and in return, I will give a Group D job in the Railways. Here, the land was first granted in someone else's name and after 5-6 years it was gifted to Yadav and his family (by the said group-D employee)," he alleged.