Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi, MLC, both former chief ministers of Bihar, will now have to go through the normal pre-embarkation security procedure at the Patna airport and access an aircraft like other passengers.
This is the outcome of a Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) order to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), passed on July 21, withdrawing with immediate effect the privilege of direct access to flights at the Patna airport, granted to the power couple in 2009.
While it lasted, the special MoCA facility meant Prasad and Rabri Devi were permitted to use their own vehicle to drive up to the tarmac for boarding a flight at the Patna airport or being received at the tarmac while alighting from a flight.
To be allowed to do so also meant that the two RJD leaders could avoid the usual pre-embarkation security check, which other MPs or even other former CMs have to go through before boarding an aircraft. A MoCA official said the two were enjoying the privilege since August 2009, when a UPA government was in office at the centre.
Screen shot of the MoCA order on Lalu Prasad Rabri Devi
This special facility was confined to the flights taking of from or touching down at the Patna airport.
Authorities at the Patna airport confirmed had received the MoCA order and said it would be complied with immediately. However, no official the HT spoke to, at the MoCA, BCAS or the Airports Authority of India, was willing to come on record on this matter.
HT, however, accessed a screen shot of the MoCA order.
Reached for a reaction, RJD spokesman Mritunjay Tiwari said the people of the country were watching how Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi were being ‘targeted’ and would give a befitting reply to those responsible for this at an appropriate time.
Prasad served as Bihar’s chief minister from March 1990 till July 1997, when he had to resign after an arrest warrant was issued against him in the multi-crore fodder scam case that had rocked Bihar at the time. He served as railways minister in the UPA-1 government (2004-09).
Prasad was a sitting MP from Chapra when he was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha in October 2013, after being sentenced to five years in jail in a fodder scam case. His wife Rabri Devi served as CM of Bihar from July 1997 to 2005.
Both Prasad and his wife are in fresh trouble after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), early this month, registered a case against them in the alleged ‘land-for-railways hotels scandal’. Prasad is facing allegation of awarding the tender for development, maintenance and operation of railway hotels at Ranchi and Puri to a private company, in an irregular manner, in 2006.
Besides Prasad and Devi, the CBI has also registered a case against their younger son and Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, as an alleged beneficiary in the scam.
Peasad’s eldest daughter Misa Bharti is also facing the heat after the Enforcement Directorate conducted raids at Delhi farm houses – at Ghitorni, Bijwasan and Sainik farms — owned by her, husband Shailesh Kumar and a firm linked to them — in connection with an over Rs 1,000-crore benami land deal.