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Laloo daughter caught in Bihar Bhavan storm

Patna, Nov. 17: Misa Bharati, the eldest daughter of Bihar’s first couple, and her husband, Sailesh Kumar, are in the eye of the latest political storm here over their alleged “illegal” stay in Bihar Bhavan in Delhi for the last three years.

Laloo Prasad Yadav’s daughter and son-in-law moved into the government guesthouse when Sailesh quit Infosys in Bangalore a few months after their marriage in 1999 and started a computer consultancy in Delhi.

The state BJP today threatened to move high court if the couple did not immediately move out. The party’s youth wing will also start an agitation on the Bihar Bhavan premises, the BJP announced.

The party fired the first salvo on November 14, when Opposition leader Sushil Modi rekindled a perennial controversy by accusing chief minister Rabri Devi of spending state money on her family.

Misa’s extended stay in Bihar Bhavan was depriving more legitimate claimants like the people’s representatives from utilising the facility, he said.

Releasing a four-page statement backed by documents, Modi alleged that the couple were not only staying in Bihar Bhavan’s VIP suite — comprising six rooms — without any authorisation, but were also using government machinery like a fleet of cars, telephones with STD facility and security personnel sent from Bihar every week.

The state government has spent Rs 3 crore on the chief minister’s relatives staying in Bihar Bhavan in the last three years, including Rs 10 lakh every year on the couple’s STD bills, Modi alleged. The money should be deducted from the chief minister’s salary in instalments, he said.

Next day, the Rashtriya Janata Dal issued a clarification in an attempt to end the row. RJD leaders Rambachan Rai and Ramkripal Yadav did not deny that Misa and Sailesh had put up at Bihar Bhavan, but argued that their stay was authorised, citing the Bihar Special Security Group Bill, 2000. “Mr Modi has lost his sanity by raising irrelevant issues,” they said.

Modi today distributed copies of the Bill, saying it did not authorise the government to provide staying facilities in government guesthouses to the chief minister’s relatives. The law related to providing security to former and present chief ministers and their families.

He also cited a 1996 high court order, which specified that no one could stay in Bihar Bhavan without orders from a competent authority. Guests can stay up to a maximum of 60 days, as Bihar Bhavan is a guesthouse for senior state officers and people’s representatives, the high court had clarified. Armed with the order, Bihar’s resident commissioner had evicted minister Taslimuddin on the charge of overstaying.

Modi threatened to use this ruling as the basis of his public interest litigation.

With the BJP threatening demonstrations, Bihar’s first family is facing another wave of criticism from the political circles, including party rebels. The RJD’s defence has been pathetic and virtually acknowledged the bending of rules at the top, senior politicians said.

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