Patna: The RJD on Tuesday called the income tax raids at party chief Lalu Prasad's residences in Delhi "an attempt to destroy" the former Bihar chief minister as well as the party, while the BJP questioned chief minister Nitish Kumar's silence in the matter.
The Income Tax department on Tuesday conducted raids and surveys on at least 22 locations in Delhi and adjoining areas on charges of alleged benami deals worth Rs10 billion linked to Lalu Prasad and others.
Officials said the department raided the premises of some prominent businessmen and real estate agents in Delhi, Gurgaon, and Rewari since early morning. The premises of the son of Rashtriya Janata Dal MP, P.C. Gupta and a few other businessmen were also searched. Nitish Kumar was, however, unavailable for comment on the issue. He was delivering a speech at the vice-chancellors' meeting in Raj Bhawan and listening to experts on ways to turn around Bihar's beleaguered universities and colleges. The meeting to discuss academic issues started at 10am and Kumar, along with education minister Ashok Choudhary, who is also the Bihar Congress president, was there till around 2pm.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh wasted no time in dubbing the raids an "attempt to destroy Lalu Prasad and the RJD". "The BJP has been trying to do it for a long time. They attack all those considered a threat for them, but such actions cannot deter Lalu Prasad. He has faced such situations may a time in the past and another attempt would only strengthen RJD to united opposition against the BJP for the 2019 challenge," he added.
He said the BJP was acting out of desperation to prevent opposition unity. "We were expecting such things, but they don't and cannot deter us," he added. BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi termed the raids an offshoot of Nitish Kumar's statement that "the competent authorities should act on the allegations". "I want to know why Kumar is quiet on the matter," he added.
Nitish Kumar on Monday ruled out a probe into Sushil Kumar Modi's allegations over land deals in the name of Lalu Prasad and his famly members, saying it was the Centre's domain. He also refused to give his reaction on the matter. Janata Dal (United) general secretary K.C. Tyagi said the raid appeared to be another extension of the way the Centre was treating opposition leaders.
"We will react only when we come across what the Income Tax deprtment has discovered during the raids. But this is a fact that opposition leaders are in the BJP's target," he added. Congress leader and former speaker Sadanand Singh said the raids on the RJD chief as well as P. Chidambaram were out of "sheer political vendetta". "It is clear from the way the BJP government is acting that it wants to destroy the opposition and it is working under a design," he added.
Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, whose Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secualar is a ally of the NDA, said it was a raid against corruption and it should be viewed like that. "If there are accusations, they must be investigated. The Narendra Modi government is known for acting tough on corruption," he added.