ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Targeting Lalu

The timing of the raids on Lalu Prasad Yadav hints at political vendetta more than accountability.

Every government at the centre has used the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to target its political opponents. For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the chief of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) party, and members of his family are the latest targets. On 20 June 2017, the Income Tax Department charged Yadav and family under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 against allegations of fraudulent land deals of up to ₹1,000 crore and of tax evasion. Soon after, on 7 July 2017, the CBI conducted raids on multiple properties of the Yadavs and registered cases against them on the suspicion of fraudulently awarding tenders to a private company for the upkeep of the railways’ heritage hotels during Yadav’s stint as the union railway minister during 2004–09. While the mainstream media seems to have passed its verdict against Yadav on the alleged charges, Yadav claims that these investigations are politically motivated and are at the behest of the BJP. The allegations of corruption notwithstanding, Yadav may not be entirely off the mark.

The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government stands out for its unprecedented intolerance of opposition of any kind. Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah together are known for actively seeking to discredit and decimate any opposition to their writ, whether within the party or outside, as was evident in Gujarat in the early 2000s when the BJP came to power. Now, after the Congress party and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Yadav and the RJD seem to be the BJP’s next political targets. The timing and exigent nature of the investigations suggest that Yadav’s claim of the BJP orchestrating these is relevant. Starting May 2017, most non-NDA parties were in talks to field a joint candidate for the recently concluded presidential elections in a bid to forge opposition unity. This was imperative given the BJP’s attempts to leverage its majority in the Lok Sabha to push through various bills and amendments, and the President’s veto power to return bills to Parliament for reconsideration. Yadav, as one of the prominent faces and voices of this emerging unity, has predictably invited the ire of the ruling party.

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Updated On : 17th Apr, 2021
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