Srijan scam haunts Nitish in Bihar as ‘unnamed accused’ in fresh FIRs put ties with BJP under strain


All was well in Bihar between the JD(U) and the BJP until a few days before the International Yoga Day celebrations on 21 June. Suddenly, around 15 June, JD(U) leaders started giving statements to the press that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar might not join the event along with the BJP leaders like Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Patna to mark the event. Things started deteriorating between the two NDA partners in Bihar and an all-out war broke out when Nitish, as predicted by his aides, indeed did not turn out for the International Yoga Day event.Immediately after the Yoga Day event came the JD(U) bombshell that the alliance of JD(U) and BJP might break if the BJP doesn’t offer a good number of Lok Sabha seats to the JD(U) as per its performance in the 2015 assembly elections.So it seemed that the absence of Nitish from the Yoga Day event was to put pressure for the Lok Sabha seats. But there is another event that preceded the International Yoga Day celebrations that is being said to be the real reason for the freezing of relations between the two alliance partners. This event is the filing of four FIRs by the CBI in the Rs 880 crore Srijan scam on 13 June 2018, exactly a week before the International Yoga Day event. And around 15 June the JD(U) leaders started talking about party leaders including the chief minister not joining the Yoga Day event.
Sources in the know say that the JD(U) leadership is not very happy with the way the Srijan case is being handled by the CBI. The CBI has registered the fresh set of FIRs naming certain NGO and bank officials, but the FIRs are also against ‘unnamed accused’ in each of the cases. The mention of the ‘unnamed accused’ is said to be the bone of contention between the two NDA partners.
After the CBI took over the Srijan scam case of Bhagalpur, when Nitish recommended a CBI enquiry under pressure from the Opposition political parties and the media, some of the accused in the case like Prem Kumar (who was the personal assistant of the then district magistrate of Bhagalpur), Rakesh Kumar, Satish Kumar Jha, and Vansidhar Jha got bail from the special CBI court when the CBI ‘failed’ to file the chargesheet against them in the stipulated 90 days period. Many political observers saw this as some kind of soft approach by the CBI as it suited the JD(U) leaders. Allegations of involvement of some high profile JD(U) leaders in the Srijan scam have been doing the rounds ever since the scam broke out, and in fact, an FIR named a local JD(U) leader named Shiv Kumar Mandal (whose father was also arrested for his involvement in the scam).