Lalu-Shahabuddin Nexus Audio Emerges; BJP Demands Action

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Patna: In a stark reminder of the infamous Jungle Raj during the Lalu-Rabri regime, a private television channel on Saturday released a damning audio tape of a conversation between notorious gangster-turned-politician Mohammed Shahabuddin and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav revealing the two still relied on each other for reasons politically beneficial to each other.

The alleged Shahabuddin-Lalu audio tape released by the fledgling television channel 'The Republic TV' started by Arnab Goswani, a senior journalist, has kicked off a political sandstorm in Bihar as opposition leaders led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded ouster of Shahabuddin from the RJD of which he continues to remain a functionary while also asking Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to break his ties with the RJD in Bihar.

In the tape that was said to be recorded on April 15, 2016, former Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP from Siwan, who is currently lodged in the maximum-security prison in Tihar in Delhi, gives a call to Yadav to seek ouster of a Superintendent of Police (SP) of Siwan in the backdrop of Ramnavami celebration at the time.

The phone call ends with Yadav assuring Shahabuddin that he was going to call the said SP personally.

"This tape has once again proved that the nexus between Lalu's party and criminal is alive and well. If this will not force Nitish Kumar to re-examine his relationship with Lalu then perhaps nothing will. However, the people of Bihar will come to know that the Chief Minister is only concerned with remaining in power and does not care who he allies with to attain this goal," former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said.

The BJP leader also demanded cancellation of Yadav's bail in the fodder scam saying as a convicted criminal, he had been successful in shaping Bihar government and its policies despite Nitish Kumar's claim of good governance in the state.

While there was no word from the Lalu clan on the latest controversy to hit it, party leader Jagadanand Singh said that Shahabuddin was a senior leader of the party and will continue to remain so.

Unconfirmed reports also said that the Chief Minister called a meeting of the senior police officials and directed the Director General of Police (DGP) P K Thakur to verify the authenticity of the audio tape.

It may be recalled that Shahabuddin was shifted from Siwan Jail to the Bhagalpur Jail last year in May. He managed to get a bail in a case and was released from the jail Sept. 10. His freedom, however, remained short-lived as he was ordered by the Supreme Court to surrender. Earlier this year in February, he was shifted to Tihar Jail in Delhi where he continues to remain behind bars.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the BJP met with Governor Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday and asked him to interfere in the matter saying the entire Bihar government was being run by criminals lodged in various jails in Bihar.

"With the revelation of the nexus between Lalu Prasad Yadav, whose party is a part of the current government in Bihar, and Siwan criminal Shahabuddin, it is clear that no one is safe in Bihar. The Governor should summon the DGP and direct him to file an FIR against the RJD chief and order the cancellation of his bail in the fodder scam," the BJP memo read.

The memo also included legal action against a number of RJD and Janata Dal – U leaders who were allegedly renting their government bungalows for wedding purpose for a hefty price.

The delegation was led by Sushil Kumar Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav, Mangal Pandey, Arun Kumar Sinha and others.

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