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CBI searches a BJP conspiracy, witch hunt; have done nothing wrong and am open to any probe.



Lalu Yadav

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad today sank into deeper trouble with the CBI conducting raids across four cities in a corruption case in which his wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi are among the accused.

The case relates to alleged manipulation in award of contract for maintenance of two hotels run by a subsidiary of the Indian Railways–IRCTC– when the RJD chief was railway minister in the UPA government.

The searches, which started at 7 am and included Rabri Devi’s Circular Road residence in Patna, were spread across 12 locations in Patna, Ranchi, Gurgaon and Bhubaneswar. The raids included the premises of the Yadav family as well as those of his confidante Prem Chand Gupta, a former Union minister, whose wife Sarla Gupta is listed as an accused in the FIR.

The raids came at a time when there was visible strain in Bihar’s ruling grand alliance, comprising JD(U), RJD and the Congress, ater Chief Minister Nitish Kumar declared support for NDA’s presidential nominee Ramnath Kovind, pitted against the opposition nominee and former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, who hails from Bihar.

Lalu had called Kumar’s decision a “historic blunder”.

The fresh case against Lalu came barely two months after the Supreme Court restored the criminal conspiracy charge against him in the fodder scam and ordered separate trial in all the four cases against him.

Others named in the FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar (both directors of Sujata Hotels), Delight Marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and then IRCTC managing director P K Goel.

It is alleged that Lalu Yadav as railway minister handed over the maintenance of two railway hotels to a company after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land in Patna through a benami company owned by Sarla Gupta.

The FIR was registered on July 5 in connection with alleged favours extended to Sujata Hotels in awarding a contract for the upkeep of the hotels in Ranchi and Puri and receiving premium land as a “quid pro quo”, the CBI has alleged.

Briefing the media on the case, CBI Additional Director Rakesh Asthana said the criminal conspiracy spanned 2004-14 during which the tender process was “rigged” in favour of Sujata Hotels.

“In return, the owners of Sujata Hotel gave three acres of land in western Patna to Delight Marketing which is known to the family of Lalu Yadav at a very low cost. Subsequently, between 2010 to 2014, this land was further transferred to another company Lara Projects owned by family members of Lalu Yadav,” he said.

Asthana, second in command in the CBI who had supervised the fodder scam probe in the CBI as DIG in which Lalu Prasad was convicted, said the case was registered under IPC sections related to cheating and criminal conspiracy and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Lalu, who was in Ranchi for appearance in a CBI court in connection with a fodder scam case, termed the action by the central agency a “part of vendetta politics” being pursued by the BJP and vowed to “uproot” the saffron party from across the country.

“Listen, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah…I may be hanged but before that I will uproot you and smash your arrogance to smithereens. You are trying to incite conflict in the grand alliance. We and people of Bihar understand this,” a combative lalu asserted at a hurriedly called press conference in Patna, hinting at the underlying tensions in the ruling alliance.

He, however, hastened to add that everything was “all right” in the three-party coalition.

“We have decided to uproot and finish the BJP. This case has nothing to do with out grand alliance…it is intact,” he asserted.

Lalu criticised the CBI’s action of naming his wife Rabri Devi, a former chief minister, and son Tejashwi, the current deputy chief minister, as accused in the case. He said when the alleged irregularities took place, Rabri was not a public servant and Tejashwi was a minor.

The RJD leader said his family cooperated with CBI personnel during the raid and would continue to extend cooperation.

He claimed the contracts for maintenance of the hotels were awarded on the basis of “open bidding” and no irregularities took place.

As the RJD boss fumed and fulminated against the BJP, the JD(U) maintained a studied silence on the issue with none of its top leaders defending the beleaguered former railway minister.

Many in the party believe the weakening of Lalu would translate into strengthening of Nitish Kumar who will have more freedom in running the coalition government.

The alliance between the two parties after the 2014 Lok Sabha poll rout was seen as a marriage of convenience as Lalu and Kumar had long been at loggerheads. However, it brought in huge gains for the three-party alliance which managed to stall the BJP juggernaut in Bihar and formed its government.

Though the JD(U) maintained silence on the issue, the Congress jumped to the defence of its ally, calling central agencies like Enforcement Directorate and the CBI “captive puppets” of the BJP government.

Criticising the raids on the premises of Lalu and his kin, AICC chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in the national capital that the law of the land must prevail impartially.

“Law of the land must take its own course in an impartial and just manner. However, when law enforcing agencies like CBI/ED become ‘captive puppets’ of BJP government, acting as ‘dirty tricks department’ to seek revenge against political opponents, it doesn’t bode well for democracy,” he said.

He also questioned the “inordinate delay” in registering the case.

However, the government rubbished the “political vendetta” charge.

“What is political vendetta? Where is BJP in this? I am not able to understand. Do you mean to say that anybody against whom any charge is there, it should not be inquired into at all?” Naidu asked.

“CBI is doing its duty and it is allowed to do so.

Earlier it was not allowed… after our government came there is no interference and that is why CBI is free and acting as per the mandate given to it…,” he told reporters in the national capital.


Congress spreading lies by hiring foreign agencies: Modi



PM Modi, Photo Tweeted by ANI

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accused the Congress of spreading lies by hiring foreign agencies and dividing societies on caste lines. He said political purity cannot come unless the Congress culture ends.

In an interactive session with BJP candidates, state office bearers and leaders of Karnataka via the Narendra Modi app, the Prime Minister urged them not to fall for the Congress’s lie and focus on people-to-people contact till the voting.

“If you analyse last few elections, you will realise how a few political parties have indulged only in dividing societies on religious lines. They give lollipops to a community before elections and then forget them,” he said.

Modi said that this is the working style of the Congress in which they exploit emotions of some community before elections and forget them after the elections.

“They will never give account of their works. They keep indulging in dividing the society. The political purity can not be established in the country till the Congress culture is finished from the mainstream,” he added.

Hitting out at the Congress for spreading “rampant” lies, Modi asked the party workers not to fall for the opposition’s trap of falsehoods.

“Congress has resorted to rampant lying after a series of defeats in elections. Earlier, the Congress used to spread lies over five to 10 issues they raised. Now out of 50 issues, 40-45 are based on lies,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi said, in such circumstances, karyakartas must stand their ground, expose their lies and also fight their means of deceiving people by “hiring foreign agencies”.

The Prime Minister said that the other political parties hesitate to talk on development because development can be quantified.

“This was unacceptable to those parties which only concentrated on division. We govern and also fight elections based only on development model,” he said.


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Vasundhara to meet Amit Shah to discuss new Rajasthan BJP chief



New Delhi, April 26: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is likely to meet BJP President Amit Shah here on Thursday to sort out the differences over appointment of the new state BJP chief.

According to sources in BJP, Shah wants Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to be appointed as state BJP chief while Raje is not in his favour.

The new state BJP chief will replace Ashok Parnami, who resigned from his post on last Wednesday.

Sources said that Raje is throwing her weight behind her colleagues in state council of ministers Arun Chaturvedi although the central leadership was in favour of Shekhawat. Chaturvedi is considered close to RSS.

The development comes in wake of Shah’s meeting with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur.

The BJP government in Rajasthan has been facing the ire of the Rajput community and its attept to appoint Shekhawat, a Rajput, is seen as an attempt to pacify the community.

The decision to appoint a new party chief has been made keeping in mind the assembly polls slated for later in 2018.

In recent bypolls in Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha constituencies and the Mandalgarh Assembly segment, the BJP had suffered a jolt as the voters of these constituencies elected Congress candidates.


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Karnataka Election: 3,374 candidates have filed nomination



Karnataka Election

Bengaluru, April 25 : A whopping 3,374 candidates have filed nominations for the May 12 Karnataka assembly elections, as per the revised figures from the Election Commission released on Wednesday.

According to the ECs data, of the total nominees, 250 were from the ruling Congress, 282 from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 231 from Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), 1,673 from Independents and 938 from regional parties and fringe outfits.

Nominations, which began on April 17 after the elections in a single phase across the state was notified, ended on Tuesday.

Congress has fielded a total of 16 women, BJP 17 and JD-S 14. In addition, 90 women have filed their nominations as Independents from various constituencies.

Among the nominees, five belong to the age group of 81-90, the EC said.

Congress leaders Kagodu Thimmappa, 87, who filed his nomination from Sagar in Shivamogga district, Shamanur Shivashankarappa, 86, from Davanagere South assembly segment, A.B. Malakareddy, 82, from Yadgir, JD-S leader Mallappa Channaveerappa M., 82, from Sindgi constituency in Vijayapura district and BJP’s nominee from Hangal in Haveri district C.M. Udasi, 82, are the oldest among the nominees.

As more than 224 candidates have filed from the Congress, BJP and JD-S, their spokesmen told IANS earlier that the additional 26 from the Congress, 58 from the BJP and seven from JD-S would have filed without the mandatory B-Form from their respective parties and hence were likely to be rejected after the EC’s scrutiny on Wednesday or if they pullout by the last date of withdrawal on April 27.

The EC is yet to release the list of accepted nominations after its scrutiny on Wednesday.

Polling will be held in a single phase for all the 224 seats, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 15 for Scheduled Tribes (STs). Votes will be counted on May 15.

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