Bihar Government on Monday sought a stay on Patna High Court’s directive seeking a CBI probe into alleged irregularities amounting to Rs. 11,412 crores between 2002 and 2008.

The State Government on Monday filed an interlocutory petition ahead of the court’s hearing on July 26, seeking to put a stay on the operation of a CBI inquiry into the irregularities based on the 2009 Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) Report for Bihar.

The Patna High Court had asked for a CBI inquiry last Thursday into alleged irregularities amounting to Rs. 11,412 crores in various development schemes between 2002 and 2008 following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a lawyer, which was based on the 2009 Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report (CAG) for Bihar.

In the petition, filed by Chief Secretary Anup Mukherjee, the Bihar Government has raised certain questions while seeking modifications and clarifications in the High Court’s order, asking “whether a court can order a probe by any agency, including the CBI on the basis of the CAG report, which was still under consideration of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)”, thereby under the State legislature.

With opposition parties raking up the issue in earnest, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier dismissed their enthusiastic clamouring as a “transient moment.”

“I am not among those to frivolously comment on this issue outside. If the opposition so wishes, let them lay the matter in the state legislature. We will likewise furnish the court with our answers if it so demands,” Mr. Kumar said, addressing newsmen outside the State Assembly.

While the High Court’s directive has given the opposition parties an opportunity to bay for Mr. Kumar and his government’s blood, it appears highly unlikely that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) – Lok Jan Shakti (LJP) combine or the Congress will be able to make the most of these allegations as 42 of these months during which the alleged “irregularities” transpired were under the RJD (which also tacitly implicates the Congress) regime.

Political observers point out that as both the RJD and the Congress have their hands dirtied in this case, it will be problematic, especially for the RJD – and thence the LJP - in turning this issue into a convincing poll plank.

Which perhaps explains the fact that while the Left parties staged a few sundry, weak demonstrations in front of the Assembly on Monday the RJD, despite being the main opposition party, was subdued with leader of Opposition Rabri Devi conspicuously remaining absent on day 1 of the monsoon session.

However, the court’s order for CBI interference has certainly vexed the NDA government as it is concerned about the “negative publicity” accorded to them by this issue.

“If the officials had submitted the Detailed Contingency (DC) bills on time, then the opposition would not have been able to raise this issue at this critical election time,” a senior BJP leader told The Hindu.

On Sunday, BJP national spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that under Article 151, until the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) submitted its report on its examination of the CAG, there could be no deliberation on the matter.