New Delhi/Patna: The CBI on Monday filed a charge sheet against former railway minister Lalu Prasad and others in connection with the alleged corruption committed in awarding tenders for development, maintenance and operation of Railway hotels at Ranchi and Puri to a private firm when the RJD chief was the union railway minister. Former Bihar chief minister and Lalu Prasad's wife Rabri Devi, and their son Tejashwi were also among the 14 people named by the CBI in the chargesheet filed in a Delhi court here. The agency had recently questioned Rabri Devi in connection with the case.
The development is being seen as a major setback for Tejashwi Yadav who has been busy chalking out plans for the coming 2019 general elections.
"Those who have been named in the chargesheet include Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, Tejaswi, close confidant of RJD chief and former union Minister Prem Chand Gupta, his wife Sarla Gupta, Sujata Hotels, its owners Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, LARA projects, then Managing Director (IRCTC) P K Goel, then Director Rakesh Saxena and then Group General Manager B K Agarwal of IRCTC. Agarwal is currently additional member, Railway Board", sources said. Then, IRCTC GGMs R K Gogia (company secretary) and V K Asthana have also been named as accused in the chargesheet.
The case pertains to allegations that Lalu Prasad, as railway minister, handed over the maintenance of two hotels run by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, in Ranchi and Puri to Sujata Hotels, a company owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, in return for a prime plot of three acres in Patna through a benami company. The CBI's FIR alleged that the RJD leader abused his official position for extending undue favours to the Kochhars and acquired a piece of "high value premium land" through the benami firm, Delight Marketing Company.
As a quid pro quo, he "dishonestly and fraudulently" awarded the contract to them for the two hotels, the FIR had alleged. After the tender was awarded to Sujata Hotels, the ownership of Delight Marketing Company also changed hands from Sarla Gupta to Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav between 2010 and 2014. By this time, Lalu Prasad had resigned as railway minister.
The RJD has launched fresh rounds of attacks on the BJP after the CBI filed chargesheet against Lalu Yadav and others.