The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lalu loses wireless ear

Patna, Sept. 2: Lalu Prasad will have to tune down his link to his former fief. Literally.

The Bihar government, now headed by one-time-comrade-turned-rival Nitish Kumar, has taken away all the high-frequency wireless sets that helped him and his wife Rabri Devi keep an ear to the ground in the state.

The move followed a November 2005 order to remove all high-frequency sets from former chief ministers and replace them with low-frequency ones. Sixteen sets were taken away today.

Home secretary Afzal Amanullah said the railway minister and Rabri, also a former chief minister, did not require high-frequency sets. An official said high-frequency sets “enabled the former chief ministers to listen to incidents” across the state, at times giving the Opposition an edge.

“We will not allow anyone spying through a powerful wireless set,” deputy chief minister Sushil Modi and Amanullah said.

Bhola Yadav, the officer on special duty (OSD) to the railway minister, said the government order would “compromise” Lalu Prasad and Rabri’s Z-plus security.

An enraged Rabri said she and her husband would “return” all securitymen, bullet-proof vehicles, personal staff and other facilities provided by the state government if it does not revoke its decision.

“Enough is enough…. We will be returning all the facilities we have been enjoying from the state government,” she told PTI.

“The new one (set) is just powerful enough to ensure that conversation is possible between two moving cars and one can use it for talking to the police control room in the state capital from a distance of at the most 10 km. This way we, who are facing threats from Naxalites and anti-national forces, will not be able to speak to police stations across the state while on the move in case of emergency.”

Shyam Rajak, the general secretary of Lalu Prasad’s RJD, said the decision “smacks of petty politics”.

OSD Yadav said the Bihar Special Security Act, 2000, covered the current chief minister as well. “We would like to know if Nitish Kumar can continue to enjoy the facility, how can Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi be denied it despite the old act remaining in force,” he said.

Rajak, who released copies of a letter Yadav has written to state police chief A.R. Sinha, said it was a “conspiracy” to cause “physical harm” to Lalu Prasad and Rabri.

Additional DGP, headquarters, Abhyanand, however, said no act “specifies” the kind of communication equipment for former chief ministers. “We will provide them (Lalu Prasad and Rabri) security wherever they go. But if they are in Madhubani, why should they be listening to what happens in the rest of the state'”

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