Within just two days of government formation in Bihar, a controversy over the appointment of corruption-accused Janata Dal-United (JDU) legislator, Mewalal Choudhary, as the Education Minister, has surfaced.
State’s main opposition party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, has questioned the ruling BJP-JDU combination, over the decision to raise the tainted leader all the while ignoring legislators from minority communities.
Mr. Choudhary, however, has dismissed all allegations against him related to corruption in building construction and irregularities in appointments to posts of assistant professor and junior scientist, as baseless. The allegations surfaced in 2017 when he was the vice-chancellor of Bhagalpur agriculture university.
“No. Never. I have not written anything (about corruption in my election affidavit). I don’t know where you get this information. I am the informer, I know. No one is above the law and a case is pending in court. Not even a charge sheet has been filed. The probe is ongoing. Nothing has happened,” Mr. Choudhary said, NDTV reports.
He further said merely having a case filed against you was not proof of guilt and targeted Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav saying that he was himself corrupt and that he shouldn’t be pointing fingers at others. “There are cases against so many legislators,” he said.
In a series of tweets, Tejashwi Yadav accused four-time Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of appointing “criminals” to retain power in state.
“Power is protecting criminals… Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has granted an exemption to loot and robbery by appointing Mewalal Chaudhary… the Chief Minister will continue his discourse on Crime, Corruption, and Communalism to save his chair… None of the minority communities were made ministers,” he wrote.
RJD chief Lalu Yadav, who is in jail in a corruption scam, also targeted the BJP and the JDU over the appointment saying those who were searching for Mewalal Choudhary earlier are now silent. “In contrast to Tejashwi Yadav’s 10 lakh jobs priority, Bihar now has Nitish Kumar whose priority reflects in appointment of Mewalal Choudhary,” he tweeted.
Mr Choudhary is the Tarapur MLA who was suspended from the JDU in 2017, but re-inducted later.
Back then, Nitish Kumar was the chief minister with the support of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, and the BJP, then in opposition, had sought Mr. Choudhary’s arrest. A criminal case was filed against him after sanction by the then Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, who ordered a probe into allegations of corruption and irregularities in appointments. However, a charge sheet is yet to be registered against him.
The opposition is not done targetting Mr. Mewalal. A video of recently sworn in Education minister of Bihar Mewalal Chaudhary has gone viral on social media. In the video, Mewalal can be seen saluting with one hand and reading the national anthem ‘incorrectly’ from a paper held in another hand. The video has been tweeted by the Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam raising doubts over the recently elected NDA government. Sanjay Nirupam tweeted,”He is the new Education Minister of Bihar. It is being said that he was the Vice Chancellor of a university earlier. He is unable to sing national anthem. He has also charges of corruption against him. Who will wash away these sins of Indian democracy?.”