Lalu Yadav, Rabri Devi not to have tarmac access in Patna

Sources said the withdrawal of the facility could spark a fresh round of tussle between the RJD and the BJP.

New Delhi: RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi, both former Bihar chief ministers, will have to go through strict security checks as regular passengers at Patna airport after the Union civil aviation ministry withdrew a facility which gave them direct access to the tarmac in their vehicles.

The order, issued by the ministry on Friday, angered RJD leaders who said this was being done “to harass Lalu Yadav who has played a vital role in uniting Opposition parties against the BJP”.

BJP leaders have welcomed the move. The ministry in its order dated July 21 said, “It has now been decided that the permission accorded to Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ms Rabri Devi… Vide the order dated August 1, 2009, may be withdrawn henceforth.”

“The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is, accordingly, requested to take immediate action to issue necessary instructions in this regard to all concerned so as to ensure implementation of the aforesaid decision of this ministry,” it said.

The facility of direct access to the tarmac, bypassing security checks, was granted to the couple by the UPA government in 2009. 

Sources said the withdrawal of the facility could spark a fresh round of tussle between the RJD and the BJP. Lalu Yadav had earlier accused the BJP-led NDA government of unleashing prosecuting agencies on him and his family members to implicate them in allegedly false corruption cases.

Bihar BJP spokesperson Vinod Narayan Jha said, ““None of the other former chief ministers, including Jitan Ram Manjhi and Jagannath Mishra, have been given the privilege. The decision, I am sure, has been taken after assessing details of their security.”

Lalu Yadav was disqualified as  Lok Sabha MP in October 2013, after he was convicted in a fodder scam case and sentenced to five years imprisonment. He is currently out on bail but has to appear before a court in Ranchi (Jharkhand) hearing another case related to the scam. 

Lalu Yadav’s RJD is the largest party in the grand secular alliance government in Bihar headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar, who is under pressure to remove his two sons – Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap – from the Cabinet after their names surfaced in graft cases and a series of benami land deals.

Civil Aviation Ministry withdraws VVIP privilege given to Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi at Patna Airport 

It is still not clear why the VVIP access of the two senior most leaders of Bihar has been withdrawn by the civil aviation ministry but RJD leaders believe that the action has been taken “only to harass Lalu Yadav who has played a vital role in uniting opposition parties against the BJP”.

The VVIP access at the Patna airport was granted to the couple by the Civil Aviation ministry in 2009 when UPA government was in power.  The special privilege meant that both Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi were allowed to drive up to the aircraft at the Patna airport in their own vehicle.

However, the BJP in Bihar has welcomed the move of Civil Aviation ministry scrapping the special privilege granted to the power couple in Bihar.

“None of the other former chief ministers including Jitan Ram Manjhi and Jagannath Mishra have been given the special privilege. The decision I am sure has been taken after assessing details of their security”. BJP spokesperson Vinod Narayan Jha said on Saturday.

Lalu Yadav was disqualified as Lok Sabha MP in October 2013, after he was convicted in fodder scam case and sentenced to five years. He is currently out on bail and appearing before a court in Ranchi (Jharkhand) for day to day hearing. His wife Rabri Devi served as Bihar Chief Minister from July 1997 to 2005.

Lalu Yadav’s RJD is the largest party in the grand secular alliance government in Bihar headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is under pressure to remove his two sons – Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap from the cabinet after their name surfaced in series of benami land deals in Patna and other places.

The last couple of month has been tough for Mr. Lalu Yadav and family as FIR registered by the CBI in connection with ‘Land for Hotels’ scam not only mentions his name but also his wife Rabri Devi and their children including Tejaswi Yadav who is Bihar Deputy Chief Minister.  

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