Bihar education minister Mewa Lal Chaudhary resigns just days after taking oath of office
Chaudhary, who belongs to the JD(U), has been named an accused in a five-year-old case relating to alleged irregularities in the appointment of teachers and technicians at Bihar Agricultural University, where he was VC
Bihar education minister Mewa Lal Chaudhary, whose appointment to the post had triggered a controversy on account of a corruption taint, on Thursday, tendered his resignation, barely three days after being sworn in as a member of the Nitish Kumar cabinet.
Chaudhary, who was allocated the portfolio on Tuesday, a day after taking the oath, sent his resignation immediately after assuming charge at 1 pm, informed sources said.
Chaudhary, who belongs to the JD(U) headed by the chief minister, had been named an accused in a five-year-old case relating to alleged irregularities in the appointment of teachers and technicians at Bihar Agricultural University, Bhagalpur, where he was the vice-chancellor.
This comes after Bihar's main Opposition RJD and its allies on Wednesday attacked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for appointing him as education minister.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said Choudhary, a first-time minister, faces serious charges under the Indian Penal Code including cheating and dishonestly (Section 420), and criminal
"Has Chief Minister Nitish Kumar awarded Mewa Lal Choudhary for corruption and given him the freedom to loot?" Tejashwi asked in a tweet.
The FIR was registered against Choudhary in February that year on the basis of a report by the then VC over some anomalies in the appointment of Assistant Professors and junior scientists. BJP which was in the Opposition during the Grand Alliance ministry then had strongly raised the issue against Choudhary. Chaudhary had left the job to contest the 2015 Bihar polls on a JD(U) ticket and was elected from Tarapur Assembly seat in Munger district. He retained his seat in the just-concluded state polls.
Tejashwi also took a swipe at the new NDA government for not appointing any Muslim in the cabinet. They have made an accused, absconding in several cases of corruption, the education minister. But there is no minister from the minority community, Tejashwi said.
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, who is jailed in fodder scam cases, tweeted that while his son Tejashwi was committed to signing 10 lakh jobs in his first cabinet meeting, if he was voted to power, Nitish made his priorities clear by inducting into his cabinet a person who is facing charges of corruption.
"Look at the irony, the BJP which was attacking the JD (U) over Mewa Lal until now, is silent today," Prasad tweeted in Hindi. While he is in jail, Prasad's Twitter handle is operated by his office in consultation with his family.
Congress MLC and AICC media panelist Prem Chandra Mishra had also tweeted against Choudhary.
"By making somebody like Mewa Lal Choudhary the Education Minister, Chief Minister @NitishKumar himself has tarnished his image and hurt his political reputation," Mishra
tweeted with the hashtag 'Sack Mewalal' in Hindi..
While the minister was not available for comment, his personal assistant Abhishek Kumar said only courts will decide if he was guilty. "The minister has to say that the courts are supreme,"
Abhishek told PTI. "And if there is any case, only the court can decide whether somebody is guilty or not. There is no need
to say anything when the case is sub judice."
Asked if the JD(U) suspending Choudhary was an admission of guilt, Abhishek said, "This is the party's rule that if you face any allegations, you are asked to (leave) for some time."
Chirag Paswan, who has remained consistent in his admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, deplored the JD(U) for appearing sympathetic towards the opposition's allegations of corruption and price rise
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In the 243-member Bihar Assembly, the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal(United) has only 43 MLAs while the BJP has 74. To stake claim to form the government, a majority mark of 122 is required