Not just ML Choudhary, 7 more in Nitish cabinet have criminal cases, says ADR report
While the new Bihar education minister Mewa Lal Choudhary remains under attack for corruption charges during his stint as the vice chancellor of Bihar Agriculture University, Sabour, which had led to lodging of an FIR against him and subsequent suspension from the JD(U); he is not the only one with taint in the Nitish Kumar cabinet.
According to the latest study by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) & Election Watch, which was released on Wednesday after analysis of the self-sworn affidavits of the 14 ministers sworn into Nitish cabinet, eight (57%) have declared criminal cases including six (43%) with declared serious criminal cases against them.
The list of eight includes four from the BJP, two from the JD(U) and one each from the HAM-S and VIP. However, it is Choudhary’s induction in the cabinet that has triggered off an uproar. In 2017, after the FIR was lodged against Choudhary, Nitish Kumar had refused to even meet him.
Choudhary, whose name had surfaced in the BAU recruitment scam and an FIR was lodged against him by the order of the Raj Bhawan in a case involving appointment of 161 assistant professors and junior scientists, is the richest of all with declared assets of Rs 12.31 crore. The average assets of the 14 ministers analysed is Rs 3.93 crore.
Choudhary has himself declared one criminal case and four serious cases under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against him. Animal husbandry and fisheries minister Mukesh Sahni has declared five criminal cases and three cases of serious nature under the IPC. BJP’s Jibesh Kumar has also declared five criminal cases and four cases of serious nature under the IPC. There are five others who have self-declared criminal cases of varying nature against them.
Former deputy chief minister Sushil Kuamr Modi was among those who had sent petitions against Choudhary to the governor in 2017 highlighting the irregularities in the appointment process. Modi had then said that he could arrive at the conclusion of complete arbitrariness in the selection process after talking to a number of candidates.
RJD MP and party spokesman Manoj Jha said the choice of Mewa Lal Choudhary as education minister was an indication enough of the CM’s weakened position and why Bihar lost after election results. “He can no more take a high moral ground, which he cited as the reason for walking out of Grand Alliance (GA) in 2017. It is bound to be a big embarrassment for the government in the Vidhan Sabha,” he added.
RJD leader Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav tweeted, “an absconding accused in corruption case has been made education minister”. “Nitish Kumar’s discourse on crime, corruption and communalism will, however, continue,” he added.
An earlier analysis by ADR & Election Watch had found that 163 (68%) out of the 241 newly-elected leaders from all parties had declared criminal cases. This is higher than the last time. Out of 243 MLAs analysed during Bihar Assembly elections in 2015, 142 (58%) had declared criminal cases against themselves. Out of that, 123 (51%) MLAs declared serious criminal cases this year, compared to 98 five years ago, said the report.
This year, 19 candidates have declared murder cases against themselves, while 31 reported attempt to murder cases and eight reported cases of crime against women.
With a large number of tainted candidates again winning the election, it shows compliance to the Election Commission (EC) guidelines in the light of the Supreme Court order to rein in such trend remains a distant dream.
The EC directive had sought greater accountability from political parties to check the problem of criminalisation of politics.
“This is dangerous. It is akin to insulting the mandate. A person facing such serious charges should not be made a minister. What is worse, he has been made education minister. Nitish Kumar is responsible for making such a horrible choice. How can such a man deal with higher education, which is in tatters and needed a man of integrity to pull it out of the rut,” asked social analyst and former head, department of economics, Patna University, NK Choudhary.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- A statement form the Rajasthan Chief Minister's Office cited rising Covid-19 cases in the neighbouring states for the decision to insist on negative Covid reports for visitors.
- The woman who suspected foul play, checked the accused's Facebook account and found out that he was regularly chatting with another woman, who turned out to be his wife.
- It was the second Maoist attack in the last two days in Chhattisgarh.
- A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) asked the petitioner's lawyer to compile a list of similarly placed officers of the Indian armed forces still languishing in Pakistani jails.
- The order was issued after hearing an injunction suit filed by Ramesh Jarkiholi’s lawyers on Wednesday. The suit had named 68 media houses, channels and others.
- High Commissioner Alex Ellis also said more debates on the farmers' protest should be expected around the world as India takes on a greater role on the global stage