Two leaders of Bihar’s JD-U-led “grand alliance” – minister Awadesh Kumar Kushwaha and RJD candidate Mudrika Yadav – were caught on camera purportedly accepting bribes hours before the first phase of polls in the state, causing embarrassment to the coalition.
Kushwaha, a senior leader of the Janata Dal-United and the minister for urban development, excise and registration, resigned following the emergence on Sunday of a video made during a sting operation. JD-U leaders took serious note of the incident, sources said.
Bihar’s additional chief electoral officer R Lakshmanan said district magistrates had been asked to send detailed reports and video clips of both incidents. “We will take action after going through the report and clips,” he said.
Kushwaha, who was the JD-U’s candidate from Pipra constituency in East Champaran district, was seen in the video purportedly accepting a bribe of Rs 4 lakh for allegedly extending favours to a contractor.
JD-U national president Sharad Yadav held a meeting with chief minister Nitish Kumar and senior party leader Bashistha Narayan Singh and decided to change the candidate in Pipra constituency. “The party believes that the sting operation is true,” Sharad Yadav told reporters.
Mudrika Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate from Jehanabad, was seen in a separate video purportedly taking a bribe.
“I have sent my resignation to the chief minister after allegations of accepting Rs 4 lakh cash. I have requested the chief minister that in the wake of the serious allegation, I cannot continue in the post,” Kushwaha said.
Kushwaha said a conspiracy had been hatched against him by his “political opponents” and he would try to bring out the truth before the people.
The chief minister forwarded the resignation to the Governor for acceptance.
Union minister Giriraj Singh, a senior BJP leader from Bihar, lashed out at Nitish Kumar’s government, saying: “Small fish have fallen in the trap but the big fish managed to escape.”
The videos emerged hours before the first phase of polling in 49 constituencies across Bihar on Monday. The BJP is pitted is up against the secular alliance led by Nitish Kumar in the high-stakes election.