RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Thursday launched a frontal attack on the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar, alleging the involvement of a BJP minister in illicit liquor trade and claiming that the Chief Minister appeared "weak and helpless" and, therefore, unable to act and stem the rot.
The leader of the opposition, who had on the previous day raised inside the assembly the issue of seizure of illicit liquor from a school building situated on a property that belonged to minister for land reforms and revenue Ram Surat Rai, went for the jugular and charged that he suspected "direct involvement" of the cabinet member.
Brandishing a bunch of sheets at a press conference here, he said "here are copies of the FIR and documents relating to the Arjun Memorial school of which the minister happens to be the founder while his brother is the vyavasthapak (manager). Anybody who cares can go and verify the facts".
The school, from where liquor was seized in November last year, is situated in Muzaffarpur. Ram Surat Rai is the MLA from Aurai in the same district.
After wresting back the seat from the RJD, Rai was inducted into the cabinet from the BJP quota, nearly a fortnight after confiscation of the liquor.
Consumption and sale of liquor in the state was banned by chief minister Nitish Kumar five years ago. Yadav was then his deputy.
The RJD leader challenged Kumar to take action against the minister and alleged that he seemed "clueless whenever we raise any anomaly involving his government".
Raking up the issue of JD(U) leader Mewa Lal Chaudhary, who had to step down immediately after taking charge as the education minister in November last when a controversy erupted over his name having cropped up in a scam involving an agriculture university, Yadav wondered "how does the chief minister end up appointing tainted people in his cabinet. "Even newspapers have been flagging this matter. But, he takes no note until we raise a hue and cry". He also ridiculed the statement given by Ram Surat Rai in his defence that he would resign as minister and give up politics if his complicity in the liquor case was established.
"Where was he when we were raising the matter on the floor of the House? Those defending him proffered a lame excuse that the property had been leased out to somebody else.
"We are now charging that he is very much involved in running of the school from where liquor was seized", Yadav said.
He also reiterated that a "parallel black economy" has been thriving in the state ever since prohibition came into force and people with the "right connections" continued to consume liquor at a premium.
"Videos have been viral on social media of legislators belonging to the chief ministers JD(U) gyrating tipsily and lewdly beside dancing girls.
"And who can forget our expose of a few years ago when we shared photographs of a liquor mafia from Bhojpur, an accused in a hooch tragedy case, getting snapped along with the chief minister at his official residence?" Yadav remarked.
"The chief minister, who heads the government and also holds the all important home portfolio, has obviously a lot to answer. We reiterate that he is tired and grown weak and helpless", Yadav, younger son of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, alleged.
Meanwhile, the state BJP was left peeved at the RJD leaders attempts at "character assassination" of Ram Surat Rai.
"The problem of Tejashwi Yadav is that Rai belongs to the Yadav community whom the RJD has always treated as its chattel.
"Before pointing fingers at Rai, he should have had a word with his father Lalu Prasad who must be knowing the impeccable credentials of Rais deceased father and family", BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand said in an angrily worded statement.
Prohibition was hotly discussed in the legislative assembly on Tuesday during a debate on Prohibition, Excise and Registration department's budgetary demand.
Highlighting crackdown on people violating the liquor law, Prohibition department minister Sunil Kumar had said over 3.46 lakh people have been arrested under the provisions of the stringent legislation against alcohol in the state.
Among them 5000 people have been arrested from Punjab, Haryana and Jharkhand for illegally supplying liquor in dry Bihar, the minister had said.
Kumar,who retired from the police service before contesting last year's poll on a JD(U) ticket, further said that the government agencies have seized 53 lakh litres of country made liquor and 97 lakh litres of India Made Foreign Liquor till February this year.