NEW DELHI: As multiple agencies are probing RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family in connection with various corruption and money laundering cases, now the civil aviation ministry has also withdrawn the VIP access given to Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi at the Patna airport. The couple will now have to board and alight flights as ordinary passengers in Patna, the capital of Bihar—a state they governed for 15 years. The privilege entitled the Yadav couple to drive their vehicle right up to the tarmac — near the step ladder of the aircraft — while flying in and out of Patna.
Ministry sources said many politicians, including former Uttar Pradesh CM Mayawati--who enjoys VVIP access to some airports--may also lose their special privileges as the government is reviewing the list of people who enjoy such privileges at airports.
Chief Ministers’ vehicles are allowed tarmac access at airports in their state, especially in the state capital. Often, the facility is extended to past CMs too on grounds of poor health etc but now the ministry has decided to withdraw the special facility given to Yadav and Devi, both former CMs of Bihar.
The order was issued by the ministry on Friday, asking aviation safety regulator Bureau of Civil Aviation (BCAS) to implement the order. “It has now been decided that the permission accorded to Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav and Smt Rabi Devi... may be withdrawn forthwith. BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security) is accordingly requested to take immediate action to issue necessary instructions in this regard to all concerned,” states the letter issued by the Ministry.
Lalu was the Bihar CM from 1990-1997. In July 1997, he was forced to resign after news of his involvement in the multi-crore fodder scam case surfaced. Rabri Devi’s third term as CM ended in March 2005. The Congress-ruled UPA government--of which RJD was an ally--had as a special case granted tarmac access to the Yadav couple at Patna airport in their vehicle in 2009. This was enabled by an aviation security (AVSEC) circular number 13/2009 issued on August 1, 2009. A senior ministry official, who did not wish to be named, explained, “In Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi’s case, previous order (allowing access) was for Patna airport only, which has been withdrawn.”
Earlier, this year, the ministry had asked the BCAS to send the file of persons, who have been provided special privileges at the airports. The Ministry is working on pruning the list of people who enjoy such privileges, sources said. BSP supremo Mayawati is one of the politician who is allowed to take her bulletproof vehicle to the tarmac. A similar facility is also provided to former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah for Delhi and airports in his home state.
The withdrawal of privilege to the couple has come at a time when Lalu Yadav family is facing a number of corruption cases-- some old going back to the 900 crore fodder scam, many new linked to land deals and alleged money laundering. Yadav, his son Tejashwi, and wife Devi are under CBI scanner for their alleged role in a corruption case during former’s regime as Union Railway Minister. The Rs 900-crore scam surfaced in the early 1990s when he was the Bihar chief minister.
Recently, the Income Tax department raided 22 locations in New Delhi and adjoining places, related to land and farm houses owned by Lalu’s daughter, Misa Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar. The two were also questioned. ED too has begun investigations.