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Why ‘giant killer’ BJP rebel Saryu Roy wants to defeat CM Raghubar Das & party in Jharkhand

Saryu Roy is known as a giant killer in Bihar and Jharkhand politics for building watertight cases to land two former CMs in jail.

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Patna: He is known as a giant killer — the man believed to have put two former chief ministers in jail for corruption. Now, former Jharkhand minister Saryu Roy wants to send Chief Minister Raghubar Das to prison.

Roy, who was a minister in the state’s Raghubar Das cabinet and has been described by PM Modi as a “friend” at Jharkhand rallies, quit the government and the assembly Monday after being denied a ticket for the assembly elections ti be held in December. He will now contest the election as an independent from Jamshedpur East, against Das.

“There are so many issues… mining scam, blanket scam and appointment scam to name a few,” Roy told ThePrint about his decision to leave the BJP. “It is a challenge and I have accepted it. I am the people’s candidate.”

Even as a member of the cabinet, Roy had recorded his dissent over a number of moves made by the government, including the allocation of mining leases to some companies, allegedly at the behest of the BJP’s central leadership.

Jharkhand BJP leaders, including Das, have never reacted to the charges made by Roy.

“But Das and his supporters used to complain to the central leadership against Roy, alleging that he was out to tarnish the image of the party,” said a senior Bihar BJP leader who has also been an active participant in the party’s activities in Jharkhand.


Also read: Ayodhya, nationalism will have little impact on Jharkhand elections: Hemant Soren


The crime digger

People who know Saryu Roy, 69, know better than to get on his wrong side.

Ask former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Lalu and Roy were colleagues in the Janata Dal when the latter came to power in 1990.

However, when Roy, a member of the irrigation commission, came out with a report severely critical of the Lalu government’s “failures”, Lalu shouted at Roy in front of other party leaders, alleging that he was out to defame him. The latter subsequently walked out. Through his old friend, BJP ideologue Govindacharya, Roy then joined the saffron party.

Saryu Roy, with his keen eye, was the one who dug out all the documents related to the fodder scam and filed a detailed petition in the matter in the high court.

“Saryu has x-ray eyes when it comes to seeing documents,” said a BJP leader. “He is able to find irregularities a normal eye would not find.”

Lalu Prasad is currently in jail following his conviction in the fodder scam, which involved illegal withdrawals from the state treasury.

Last year, Saryu Roy went to meet Lalu at Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi. Lalu, according to Roy, said at the meeting that he had made a mistake by making him his enemy.

Roy’s image as a giant killer, however, did not start with Lalu.

In the 1980s, he levelled a series of corruption charges against the cooperative mafia, allegedly led by Congress leaders so powerful they were believed to be beyond the law.

However, when Bhagwat Jha Azad of the Congress became chief minister, he dissolved the cooperative bodies, reportedly on the basis of charges and documents produced by Roy.

Roy also pursued former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, compiling documents to prove irregularities in mining operations in the state. Koda, who served as chief minister from 2006 to 2008, was convicted in the state’s Rs 4,000 crore mining scam in 2017. He currently stands barred from contesting elections.

The Nitish connect

Roy has publicly claimed that his proximity with Janata Dal (United) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was one of the reasons he was denied a ticket for the polls.

The JD(U), which is contesting the Jharkhand polls alone, is backing Roy’s candidature from Jamshedpur East despite being a member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Nitish’s own relationship with the BJP has been in choppy waters since the return of the NDA in Delhi this year.

Roy’s friendship with Nitish goes back to their time as classmates at Patna Science College, and the personal bond continues to this day.

In 2009, when Roy lost the assembly elections, he was offered a post in Bihar if he joined the JD(U), but he turned down the offer. When the BJP-JD(U) broke up briefly in 2013, a section of BJP leaders alleged that Nitish was one of the beneficiaries of the fodder scam, based on a statement made by an accused.

Much to the consternation of his colleagues, Roy defended Nitish. When Roy’s book was launched in Patna in 2017, it was Nitish who released it.

Roy’s friends and admirers admit that defeating Das will be an uphill task, but say the BJP might pay a heavy price for its hostilities with him.

“Even if Saryu loses and the BJP comes to power again in Jharkhand, he will remain a source of embarrassment for the government with loads of documents and proof he can gather against corruption,” said a senior BJP leader. “Saryu Roy may not be a good friend but he is certainly a dangerous enemy.”


Also read: Why Jharkhand elections can determine the course of Indian politics


 

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