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BJP desperate to sour Nitish-Lalu ties
Satish Modi's charge against RJD chief has little basis
By Arun Srivastava
The future of the Bihar's Grand Alliance government does not appear to be bright. As neither Lalu Yadav nor Nitish Kumar would take the blame for pulling down the government, it would continue to function but without a definite direction and dimension.

The latest incident that has added to the bitterness between the two leaders is the twin issue of soil purchase deal between the Patna zoo and a private mall and leader of opposition, BJP leader Sushil Modi implicating Rabri Devi in the illegal land deal along with her sons Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav partners in the company Lara Projects LLP.

Lalu Yadav known for his perseverance and wits even could not control his anger at this expose. His annoyance and disgust was clearly manifest in his observation; "Samay aane par thasunga." Though he is angry on Sushil Kumar Modi for his allegation about the involvement of his family in an illegal land deal, he is also not pleased with Nitish for his instruction to the chief secretary to find out the details of the deal.

Even senior RJD leaders feel that Nitish was playing the double game. While he was giving the impression that he was sympathetic to Lalu, he did not endorse Modi's expose. His direction to have it investigated is meant to deflect the allegations. Apparently he may be right, but the political circle views his action as a move to turn Lalu suspect in the eyes of the people. RJD leaders feel in all fairness he should have discussed the issue with Lalu Yadav and then made a decision.

RJD leaders feel that eventually the findings would exonerate Lalu as there is no illegal deal is involved in it. But exoneration will be used by Nitish as well as the BJP for their gains. While Nitish will look like the benevolent benefactor, the BJP will launch its campaign with much vigour and blame the government of protecting corrupt Lalu.

RJD leaders feel that Nitish might have tried to find out the truth instead of officially asking the chief secretary to investigate. His taking the cognisance of Modi's charges is at the centre of the controversy. His action is believed to be premeditated and aimed at demeaning Lalu. In fact after waiting to assess the political fallout of the episode, Lalu on April 9 came out with the assertion that the deal was transparent as family owns the land on which a mall billed as Bihar's biggest, is coming up in Patna and insisted there was nothing illegal about it.

Lalu said "Rabri Devi, Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav are partners in the company (Lara Projects LLP, which owns the land on which the mall is coming up). They are shareholders.My sons have given the details of their shares in the company in their affidavits and assets declarations; they also file I-T (income tax) returns every year. It is a conspiracy to malign my family's image." He justified the deal by saying; "Every man wants his son to do business; you expect that they should wear torn clothes? What is wrong when my family members owned the company? It has been done legally. If I have land, why can't I use it commercially?"

Senior RJD leaders nurse the view that Sushil Modi has come out with this wild charge at the behest of someone else. Has he been convinced of the nature and content of the accusations, he would not made a tactical shift. Initially he accused Lalu's sons of dumping soil in Patna zoo, but when it did not receive the people's endorsement, he shifted the attention to the mall. The suspicion has one major factor. A day after this exposure Modi urged Nitish Kumar to crack down on benaami property.

Lalu decried Sushil Modi's allegation and said he has made a very ugly allegation against me that I had given railway hotels in lieu of land. "You should ask this to the NDA government because the hotels were given on lease under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is their government; cancel the lease now." Sushil had alleged that the mall land was transferred to Delight Marketing Company Pvt Ltd by a hotelier after Lalu as railway minister had "handed over" the railway hotels in Ranchi and Puri to the hotelier.

Delight Marketing was initially owned by RJD MP Prem Gupta and his family. On June 26, 2014, it incorporated Lalu's sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi and his third daughter Chanda Yadav were made the directors. In November 2016, it became Lara Projects Pvt Ltd and on February 14 this year it became Lara Projects LLP with Lalu's wife Rabri Devi, and sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi as directors. The five-term MP Prem Gupta however rebutted that his company was merged. He clarified that it was transferred to Lara Projects Pvt Ltd, which later became Lara Projects LLP.

In a snooping development this exposure surfaced just a day after the JD(U) boss Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo met a week back for nearly two hours in the night of April 3 to discuss the possibility of formation of mahagathbandhan at the national level to take on Narendra Modi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Both the leaders having strained relation on this issue has been a known secret. Earlier Nitish had tried to take lead. But during the Uttar Pradesh elections he maintained silence. He was accused of helping BJP by not fielding his party's candidates. This helped his castemen to vote for the BJP.

The secular opposition parties did not take it lightly. On his part Nitish tried to dispel the "wrong" impression and as an exercise in this direction he had met some of the leaders of the left and other secular parties. According to Lalu; "We discussed several issues. I made it clear that I will not let anything destabilise the grand alliance government in Bihar."

"We discussed all aspects of the task before us… formation of an alliance of anti-BJP parties in the country. He (Kumar) also agreed with me. We will take these efforts forward," said Yadav. "He (Kumar) agreed that we have to form a national alliance of anti-BJP parties in all circumstances in order to stop BJP's rise. Congress, being the largest of these parties, should take the first step and lead the efforts to bring the diverse parties on a single platform," he added.

Sources said Lalu Yadav met Nitish after knowing that the JD(U) leader was full of indignation due to RJD's decision to contest the municipal corporation polls in Delhi. JD(U) has already gone ahead in selecting candidates for the MCD polls. RJD had no plans to contest those polls till a few days ago. The war of attrition between the two leaders on the issue of who will be the opposition face for the prime minister, has been going on for some time. That was the reason that they did not form an alliance in UP. While Nitish has been trying to rope in smaller parties, Lalu has been busy wooing Mulayam and left parties.

If the sources are to be believed then the exposure is aimed at frustrating the moves of Lalu Yadav to project himself as the only leader capable to unite the entire opposition at the national level. The leaders say that the exposure did not substantial evidences to support the claim of Sushil Modi.

—(IPA Service)

News Updated at : Sunday, April 16, 2017
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