Bihar: RJD finds itself on back foot after alleged phone calls incident

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NEW DELHI: Ever since the new NDA government has been formed in Bihar, opposition RJD has been constantly attacking the ministers of the new government over corruption cases. Last week, one such minister, Mewa Lal Choudhary, resigned under pressure from his own party and the opposition as he was facing corruption cases.

However, the recent incident of alleged phone calls by RJD president Lalu Prasad to NDA MLAs for poaching has put the main opposition party on the back foot. The development has come ahead of Prasad’s bail hearing in Dumka treasury case of fodder scam in Ranchi on Friday.

Prasad is serving a jail term in Ranchi and was staying in a government bungalow till Thursday afternoon.

The RJD, which made corruption an issue during and after the polls, remained silent on the alleged phone calls. No senior RJD leader made any comment or statement on the issue.

On Wednesday former Bihar deputy chief minister and BJP leader Sushil Modi had released an audio claiming it to be a conversation between Prasad and the BJP MLA from Pirpainti, Lalan Paswan. Modi alleged that Prasad had urged Paswan to abstain during voting on the assembly speaker election and assured him that he would be later rewarded with a ministerial berth.

The issue became murkier with two more leaders coming out on Thursday and saying that they too had been contacted by Prasad. HAM leader Jitan Manjhi and state minister and VIP leader Mukesh Sahani too alleged that Prasad tried to get in touch with them. Manjhi said Prasad had been calling his MLAs and trying to talk to him. Sahani, on the other hand, is said to have an audio recording where he claims that Prasad had approached him with a deputy CM offer.

“On the instructions of the party, BJP leader Lalan Paswan has lodged an FIR (first information report) in vigilance police station in Patna against Lalu Prasad under the Prevention of Corruption Act for making telephone calls from custody and offering ministerial berth, which amounts to bribing and alluring a public servant,” Sushil Kumar Modi told ET.

“His party RJD has one MLA in Jharkhand. But he is getting to stay in the director’s bungalow while the director is staying in a guest house. The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), looking after his cases, should take note of this as how can he be allowed to run his party and make calls from jail,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand BJP leader Anuranjan Ashok filed a public interest litigation in Jharkhand High Court for violation of jail manual by Prasad.

However, on Thursday, Prasad was transferred back to the paying ward of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi, from the bungalow he was staying at since September.

“This transfer to the hospital is just political eyewash. Why has no FIR been registered against the person who carried a mobile phone and made Lalu Yadav talk?” JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar told ET. “Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren and Congress party have a lot to answer as to who allowed Lalu to have an attendant while he is under prison. He is a convicted person and should be treated as such.”

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