Patna: RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav seems to be still creating waves from prison as a stream of party ticket-seekers have been making a beeline for the last two weeks to meet him ahead of the Bihar polls.
Some of the politicians who have gone to meet Lalu include RJD MLAs Samata Devi, Samir Mahaseth, and Congress Rajya Sabha MP and former RJD leader Akhilesh Singh, said RJD sources.
In the wake of so many visitors calling on Lalu, Inspector General (IG) of Ranchi Virendra Bhushan wrote to Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Ranchi Chhavi Ranjan on 31 August, requesting him to step up the security around the bungalow, which has been converted into a makeshift jail, to ensure that nobody is allowed to meet the former Bihar CM without permission.
Following the letter, a copy of which has been accessed by ThePrint, the DC Friday ordered posting of magistrates and security guards at the bungalow.
Lalu, who is serving a jail term in connection with the fodder scam, was shifted to the bungalow two weeks ago from a paying ward of RIMS (Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences).
Sources in the Jharkhand government said Lalu was shifted by the administration to protect him from contracting Covid after a few patients at RIMS tested positive.
The RJD, however, officially denied that Lalu is meeting ticket-seekers, saying that NDA leaders are coming out “with false allegations”.
Meanwhile, MLA Samata Devi, who went to meet Lalu on 3 September, has been quarantined for 14 days by the Ranchi administration. Devi said she was unaware of the quarantine rules and has requested the Jharkhand government to let her go back to Bihar.
Devi’s quarantine in Ranchi has led the JD(U) to bring up the caste issue to target the RJD.
“The RJD-friendly government in Jharkhand did not do anything to Lalu’s eldest son Tej Pratap Yadav when he went to Ranchi on 26 August with 50 cars, stayed more than two hours in the bungalow with his father and then had a scuffle with RIMS (staff who stay at the bungalow). But since Samata Devi is a Dalit, she has been quarantined,” JD(U) minister Neeraj Kumar told ThePrint.
PIL in Jharkhand HC
The Ranchi IG’s letter and the subsequent DC order is now being viewed as an attempt by the Ranchi administration to save their skin in the wake of a PIL filed in the Jharkhand High Court on 31 August.
Filed by alleged BJP supporter Manish Kumar, the PIL, accessed by ThePrint, stated that the Jharkhand government shifted Lalu to the bungalow to facilitate his political interaction with his supporters in view of the assembly polls in Bihar.
The PIL requested the Jharkhand HC to shift Lalu back to Birsa Central Jail in Ranchi, which has adequate facilities for his healthcare.
“The jail IG’s letter and the reply of the DC can be used by the Jharkhand government for its reply to a notice by the high court when the PIL comes for hearing. But the truth is that even deputation of magistrates cannot stop the flow of visitors,” said a retired IPS officer of Jharkhand, who did not want to be identified.
Soren govt helping Lalu, says BJP
During the Raghubar Das regime in Jharkhand, the number of Lalu’s visitors was restricted to three per week. There used to be a long waiting list of visitors and Lalu’s close aide and RJD MLA Bhola Yadav used to get three names cleared for the meeting.
However, after the formation of the Hemant Soren government in which RJD’s sole MLA is a minister, the restrictions have been eased.
“By shifting Lalu to a bungalow, the Soren government has made it easier for Lalu to meet ticket aspirants, who are making a beeline from Bihar. He has collected the biodata of over 200 ticket aspirants already. But it violates the prison norms,” Deputy CM Sushil Modi told ThePrint, adding that Lalu should be shifted back to Birsa Central Jail.
On Modi’s allegations, Ranchi DC Ranjan said they’ve already issued orders for posting of security guards in and around the bungalow.
There are also rumours that RJD might allocate Hemant Soren’s JMM a couple of seats in areas located near the border of Jharkhand, which have a good percentage of tribal population.
The RJD, however, denied that Lalu is meeting any ticket-seekers.
“It is all rubbish. I am not aware of anyone meeting Lalu ji in Ranchi. The NDA leaders have very little to say about the achievements of their government. Instead they are coming out with false allegations,” state RJD spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwari told ThePrint.
Asked about Samata Devi’s visit to Ranchi, Tiwari said she didn’t meet Lalu.
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