BJP accuses Lalu of corruption; asks PM to drop him

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New Delhi, Aug 12 (UNI) Accusing Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his family of adopting ''novel methods of corruption'' for doling out jobs in the Railways, the BJP today demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to at least take away Railway portfolio from him if he cannot be dropped from the Cabinet.

Taking into cognizance an expose of corrupt practices allegedly evolved by the family members of Mr Prasad for giving away the jobs in the ministry as revealed by a television channel, BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad said a few new things had come to light by the report.

The family had initiated the practice of giving jobs in the Railways in return for land from the beneficiaries and the process of transfer of these lands during the registration was totally silent on the source of funds, he alleged.

The spokesman said the ministry had evolved a new method of giving away the Railway property as seen in the contracts given to a company for maintenance of two hotels at the Railway land in Ranchi and Puri. Nearly 70 per cent of the company shares were held by the wife of a Union Minister close to the Railway Minister.

There was another company in the picture where Mr Prasad's family members owned majority of the shares, he said.

The BJP spokesman said the Prime Minister often spoke of integrity of people and after this television expose, he should order a fair investigation into the matter.

Mr Prasad, who was a lawyer in the fodder scam case in Bihar, explained how the Railway Minister and his family members had to explain their earning through animal husbandry activities to sustain the incomes they had amassed.

He said when the Samajwadi Party came up with its own sting version alleging the hand of BJP in the 'cash for vote' scandal that rocked the Lok Sabha on July 22, Mr Prasad and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan asked for narco-analysis. Now that the CNN-IBN, which had conducted the sting operation of the cash-for-vote scam, has aired the tapes, and things have come into open on what happened the other day. Will these two ministers still insist on narco analysis test, the BJP spokesman asked.

If any analysis is to be held it should now involve a Samajwadi Party leader and his employee Sanjeev Saxena, who carried money to the three MPs, he said.

The PM should explain what action he would propose against the two ministers, he said.

Asked if the BJP would revoke its decision to boycott the programmes and interviews of the CNN-IBN as it had telecast the tapes, Mr Prasad said the BJP would have been happy if the TV channel would had telecast the tapes on the next day.

He defended the party's allegation that the tapes may have been doctored, saying the BJP had every right to apprehend doctoring of tapes because of the delay.

However, since it had telecast the tapes, the party would reconsider its decision to boycott the channel, he said.

UNI MCN/KAS SK UCS1832

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