RJD chief Lalu Prasad moved to RIMS director’s bungalow amid Covid-19 fear, BJP cries foul

Prasad’s moving was being speculated ever since a dedicated Covid-19 ward started functioning in RIMS after the pandemic broke out.
Lalu Yadav

Incarcerated Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is undergoing treatment at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi, Jharkhand, was moved to the hospital director’s bungalow on Wednesday in view of his clinical safety arising from the spurt in Covid-19 infection.

Ranchi senior superintendent of police (SSP) Surendra Kumar Jha confirmed that Prasad was moved to director’s bungalow. “RIMS and the jail administrations had decided to move Prasad from the paying ward and it was carried out today,” Jha said.

Prasad’s moving was being speculated ever since a dedicated Covid-19 ward started functioning in RIMS after the pandemic broke out. It gained momentum after one of his caretakers tested positive Covid-19 recently. However, the former Bihar chief minister underwent a Covid-19 test which came out negative on July 26.

Several rooms on the floor where Prasad was admitted were also occupied due to security reasons, which were now needed for the treatment of coronavirus patients, a RIMS official said requesting anonymity.

Jharkhand’s total Covid-19 tally crossed 14,000, of which Ranchi accounts for over 2,500 cases. The number of active cases was registered at 1,802 in Ranchi till Tuesday evening.

Superintendent of Birsa Munda Central Jail, where Prasad was imprisoned before he was admitted to RIMS, Hamid Akhtar said, “We had received a request from the RIMS administration regarding Prasad’s movement to the bungalow. They said as Covid-19 cases are rising, they wanted to use other rooms which were occupied due to security reasons for Prasad.”

Finally, it was decided that Prasad would be moved to the director’s bungalow, which is also a part of the RIMS campus, Akhtar added.

The official residence of the RIMS director has been vacant after former director Dr DK Singh left RIMS last month. The incumbent director, Dr Manju Gari, is yet to move in.

Earlier, the police administration carried out the security audit of the bungalow on receiving the request letter from the RIMS administration.

Lalu Prasad Yadav is serving a jail term after being convicted in the fodder scam cases and was admitted to the RIMS paying ward with stage-3 kidney problems in December 2018. Meanwhile, he applied for a regular bail in July.

The state BJP termed Prasad’s shifting to director’s bungalow as special treatment by the incumbent Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Congress-led government in Jharkhand in the view of upcoming Bihar election. “Now, the director’s bungalow would turn into an RJD headquarter where Bihar poll strategies would be chalked out,” said BJP spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo.

The JMM, however, rubbished the allegation describing it as the BJP’s stunt to get political mileage. “Prasad is imprisoned. How can the director’s bungalow turn into RJD headquarter? Since BJP has no work, it is levelling baseless allegation,” JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said.

He said the jail and the RIMS administration took the decision in view of Prasad’s age and rising cases of Covid-19.

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