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CBI did not probe fodder allegations against Bihar CM

The agency has been sitting on the allegation made by the main accused in the case that Nitish Kumar took Rs 1 cr for election expenditure.

NAVTAN KUMAR  New Delhi | 28th Sep 2013

Nitish Kumar, Bihar Chief Minister and senior Janata Dal (United) leader

he Central Bureau of Investigation, for nearly two decades sat on allegations of corruption made by the main accused in the fodder scam case against the present Bihar Chief Minister and senior Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar and JDU general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Shivanand Tiwari. In a "confession" made to the CBI in May 1996, the late Shyam Bihari Sinha alleged that in 1994, Nitish Kumar, who was with the Samata Party at the time, took Rs 1 crore as election expenditure and Shivanand Tiwari Rs 30-35 lakh from the people involved in the scam. But the CBI never probed these charges. On 20 September 2013, the Jharkhand High Court asked the CBI to file a "counter affidavit" by 22 November explaining why the agency never named Kumar and Tiwari as accused in the fodder case. A copy of the "confession" is with The Sunday Guardian.

When contacted, JDU spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said he was not aware of the matter and that he would get back after getting the details of the case. However, JDU national general secretary Arun Kumar Srivastava said, "They (scamsters) gave money to many people. But the issue is whether those who took money did any work or not in lieu of the payment. In any case, we would not like to comment on it as judiciary is doing its job. Law should take its own course."

Shyam Bihari Sinha made this statement to the then CBI deputy superintendent of police Sharavan Kumar. Sinha alleged that the money was paid through Umesh Prasad Singh, who was a section officer in Bihar's Cabinet Vigilance Department.

According to another "confession" made to the CBI by accused Umesh Prasad Singh, Tiwari was allegedly paid an additional Rs 4 lakh in a bid to manage the Opposition, which was keen on pursuing the case in the courts of law.

A copy of Sinha's "confession" was obtained through the RTI route by Mithilesh Kumar Singh, a Patna-based social activist in 2009. Singh has been running from court to court ever since to get his voice heard. A CBI court quashed the case twice. Singh finally moved the Jharkhand High Court three months ago. The High Court took cognizance of the petition and pulled up the CBI last week. The issue has surfaced at a time when a special CBI court is all set to pronounce its judgement on Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in the infamous Rs 950-crore fodder scam on Monday.

As per Sinha's "confession" regarding the payment allegedly made to Nitish Kumar, "In October or November 1994, I had gone to Delhi and stayed at 5/14 Sarvapriya Vihar. During this visit, Umesh Singh contacted me personally and told me that Nitishji wants money for expenses in the coming general assembly elections in March 1995... The demand was about Rs 1 crore... I returned to Ranchi and discussed the issue with members of the committee ... who felt that Samata Party, may emerge as a strong political force in Bihar during the election in 1995. Since Nitish Kumar was emerging as strong leader in Samata Party, the committee decided to pay Rs 1 crore to him."

The "committee" was a group of scamsters who would decide how to distribute the fodder money.

Sinha further alleged, "After discussion, I directed Vijay Kumar Mallik to pay Rs 1 crore to Umesh Singh for Nitish Kumar. It was some time in November or December 1994 that Vijay Mallik paid Rs 1 crore to Umesh Singh...While I was at Delhi, during my trip, Nitish Kumar confirmed telephonically that Umesh Singh came and met him. Nitish Kumar thanked me for the monetary help extended to him... By this time, I was also scheduled to go to Australia for my treatment. Nitish Kumar conveyed his good wishes for my early and speedy recovery... Umesh Singh confirmed to me that he had handed over Rs 1 crore given to him by Mallik... Subsequently Vijay Mallik also confirmed to me that he paid Rs 1 crore to Umesh Singh."

As for Shivanand Tiwari, the statement alleges: "He (Tiwari) demanded money through Umesh Singh. He had communicated that in case the payment is not made to him, he will file writ in the High Court against the working of AHD (Animal Husbandry Department)... In November 94, I was at Delhi ... Umesh Singh came to 5/14 Sarva Priya Vihar and took me to Shivanand Tiwari, who was staying in Hotel White House, Karol Bagh... Tiwari demanded Rs 50 lakh... He told me to give the money to Umesh Singh at Patna... Tripurari Mohan Prasad was asked to pay to Umesh Singh up to Rs 40 lakh to be paid to Shivanand Tiwari... Subsequently Tripurari confirmed that he had paid about Rs 30-35 lakh to Umesh Singh to pay the same to Shivanand Tiwari."

In a separate "confession", made before Ashesh Kumar, Inspector CBI Patna, Umesh Singh alleged in the beginning of 1996, "Shiwanand Tiwary of Samata Party and Saryu Rai of BJP in consultation with other opposition leaders were trying to go to High Court and Supreme Court making a bid to get some CBI inquiry instituted in the AHD scam. Sri SB Sinha talked to me on telephone from Delhi and called me there to help him to manage the above opposition leaders, who were bent upon highlighting the AHD scam... I was made to stay in Marine Hotel, Connaught Place..." Shivanand Tiwari and S.B. Sinha allegedly visited the hotel. "Despite request of SB Sinha for agreeing to a judicial probe... for which Ashwini Kumar of BJP, Jagannath Mishra of Congress and CM Laloo Pd. Yadav were ready as per his version, Sri Shiwanand Tiwari did not relent... Later in the day, at the behest of SB Sinha, Vijay Mallik's brother handed over to me Rs 4 lakh in the Marine hotel itself for Shiwanand Tiwary. I returned to Patna and gave the money to Sri Tiwari at his residence."

Umesh Singh also mentioned about his visit to Tiwari's residence in 1995 along with "some staff of Tripurari Mohan Prasad", who "handed over two suitcases of currency notes to Tiwariji." "I cannot say the exact amount," alleged Umesh Singh. "When he (S.B. Sinha) returned from Australia, he visited the residence of Mrs Sudha Srivastava ... and paid three suitcases of currency notes to Lalan Singh, treasurer of Samata Party. I had accompanied SB Sinha. These funds were meant for election purpose," the statement reads.

The Court of Justice R.R. Prasad observed last week that since the CBI was aware that Nitish Kumar and Shivanand Tiwari received money from an accused in the fodder scam, their names should have been included on the list of accused.

Speaking to this newspaper, petitioner Mithilesh Kumar Singh alleged that the CBI did not act on the allegations levelled by S.B. Sinha. "Either they should have filed a closure report or given a clean chit to the two leaders. But they did nothing," he said.

The BJP linked Nitish's sudden closeness towards the Congress with the fear of CBI. BJP national vice president and Rajya Sabha member from Bihar C.P. Thakur said, "Nitish Kumar fears that the CBI would frame him in the fodder scam case. That's the reason why he is getting close to Congress. Congress has been using CBI fear tactics to target non-Congress parties. CBI is like a life-saving drug for the Congress. It has become a tool to manage its government, whether it is the case of Lalu Prasad, Mayawati or Mulayam Singh."

Thakur also said that Nitish Kumar should explain why he has developed a sudden softness towards the Congress in the last few months, after breaking away from the BJP. The former Union minister, however, said that law should take its own course.

Senior Bihar BJP leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi told The Sunday Guardian, "We do not expect much from the CBI. The UPA government will use the CBI as a tool to compel Nitish Kumar to go for an alliance with the Congress. The government has been doing this with other leaders. Despite having enough evidence, the CBI did not act and now we do not think they will do much."

 
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