9:42 am - Thursday November 12, 2015

CBI may question Ram Vilas Paswan in Bokaro Steel Plant recruitment scam

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New Delhi – The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may question Ram Vilas Paswan in connection with a recruitment scam at the Bokaro Steel Plant when he was Steel Minister five years ago. The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader’s supporters say it is no coincidence that the CBI’s possible move comes at a time there are reports of his talks with the BJP for an alliance ahead of the national election, due by May.

CBI sources say they have found documents that indicate that candidates selected for the Bokaro Plant were recommended from Mr Paswan’s official residence in Delhi.

“There is a possibility that he will be questioned,” an agency source told NDTV.

Mr Paswan reportedly opened alliance talks recently with the BJP, 12 years after snapping ties with it over the 2002 Gujarat riots, indicating that he was upset with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress for dragging their feet on finalising a seat-sharing deal for the 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar.

There are reports that Mr Paswan had demanded 10 seats from the RJD and Congress, who were not willing to concede more than five. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the LJP had fielded its candidates from a dozen seats, but it drew a blank.

With the polls ahead, a CBI probe is the last thing that the Bihar leader would want.

Mr Paswan was union minister for chemicals, fertilizers and steel during the UPA government between 2004 and 2009.

In January, the CBI raided some 30 places and registered two cases related to alleged irregularities in appointments in the middle and junior management level in the public sector company.

The Bokaro steel plant was also accused of a conspiracy by not advertising the appointments, accepting applications even after the deadline and thus favouring some candidates.

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