In a recent development into the tender allotment case of two hotels by the Railways in 2006, under the then Union Rail Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, to Patna-based Sujata Hotels is now facing a new hurdle. Speaking to Indian Express, the three members of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) Tender Committee at the time have said that they are not able to recall a single detail related to those tenders.
The report further states that the committee members includes BK Agarwal who is currently working at a senior position is Indian Railways; Vinod Asthana, retired in 2014 and Rakesh Gogia, currently working with a private firm. It was the same committee which had processed and approved the bidding by Sujata Hotels for the hotels which have been under the scanner lately – BNR Puri and BNR Ranchi.
“So many years have passed, it is difficult for me to remember anything off-hand. There used to be tenders almost every day those days. In any case, I was in catering, and this issue was not related to my division. I was only a part of the tender committee,” said Asthana who is currently working as a Railways traffic service officer.
“I don’t remember anything about the two hotels. It’s been so long,” Agrawal the paper. When asked whether he would be able to recall the details if relevant details are shown to him, Agarwal said, “Even if I see the papers now, it would not be right for me to say that I would remember.” Agrawal who is currently working as a Railways mechanical service officer, was the group general manager (tourism services) of IRCTC in 2006 when he was on the tender committee.
When Gogia, who was the joint general manager (finance) and company secretary with IRCTC in 2006. was first questioned in 2008, released a press note claiming that the process did not flout any rules. “Which note are you talking about? I never issued any note. It was not my job also,” he has said lately. However, Indian Express has a copy of the note which reads, “I don’t remember anything (about the tenders) and nothing out of the ordinary happened.” Gogia left IRCTC in 2010.
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Soon after the irregularities came into light, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) complied names of all officials involved with the tender allotment at IRCTC as a part of its probe. The investigating agency had filed an FIR last month where it alleged that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief, his wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav had received a prime plot of land in Patna in exchange for alloting the two tenders. Even the Enforcement Directorate (ED), last week, had registered a money-laundering case related to these tenders against Prasad and his family members.