Patna: A two-acre piece of land on the outskirts of Patna, worth at least 30 crores, is owned by the family of Lalu Yadav, whose party is a member of the coalition government in Bihar. The opposition alleges that from this land, multiple scams have been pulled by the Yadavs. Sushil Kumar Modi, the BJP’s top leader in Bihar, says that documents expose how the land was transferred illicitly to the Yadavs, who have recently leased it to a real estate developer, and then sold soil from the same plot to the Patna zoo, which is governed by the Forest Department, which in turn reports to Lalu’s son Tej Pratap. Like his brother Tejashwi, he is in his late 20s and is a minister.
In 2008, the land was sold to Sarala Gupta, whose husband, Prem Gupta, is an MP from Lalu’s party. She owned a company called Delight Marketing Private Limited. The sellers of the land were three brothers, Harsh, Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, who own Chanakya Hotel. The sale took place two months before Chanakya won the contract to run two hotels for the railways in Ranchi and Puri. At the time, Lalu was Railways Minister in the UPA government.
Mr Modi of the BJP alleges that it is no coincidence that Chanakya sold the land to a member of Lalu’s party after it landed a lucrative deal. However, sources close to Lalu say that the Chanakya owners put in the highest bid and won the 15-year contract for the railways hotels fair and square.
In 2014, Tej Pratap Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav and their sister Chanda Yadav were added as Directors of this company. Then, this company merged with another to add Rabri Devi as a Director, and in February this year, another merger resulted in yet another company that has only Rabri Devi and her sons as directors. Each of these companies was registered at the same address.
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Mr Modi says that the many iterations of the company ended with Lalu’s family owning the land that has now been leased for building what is planned as Bihar’s biggest mall. It is not clear how much the Yadavs have leased the land for, but the real estate developer is a legislator from their party.
Leaders from Lalu’s party say that the allegations of their chief’s proxy ownership of the land were made in the Patna High Court and then the Supreme Court, and both rejected the demand by Lalu’s political opponents for a CBI investigation.
Over the last three months, the zoo in Patna, which is also governed by the Forest Department, bought soil worth 44 lakhs to build a road within the zoo.
The Patna zoo’s officials have accepted that they did not ask for competing bids to buy the soil that was brought in, but deny that it was acquired from the Yadavs’ land.
Lalu and his sons refused to comment on the new allegations against them but on Tuesday, they said any inquiry into the Patna zoo deal would prove them innocent.