Three days after being sworn in and a mere hours after taking charge, Bihar’s education minister Mewalal Choudhary, who came under sustained attack from the Opposition parties over corruption charges relating to his stint as vice-chancellor of an agriculture university, on Thursday resigned from the Nitish Kumar cabinet.
On the advice of the chief minister, Governor Phagu Chauhan accepted Choudhary’s resignation. Choudhary, a Janata Dal (United) MLA from Tarapur in Munger district, was accused of irregularities in the appointment of assistant professors and junior scientists at Bihar Agriculture University (BAU), Sabour, in Bhagalpur when he was its vice-chancellor from 2010 to 2015. He was expelled from the party in 2017 after an FIR was lodged against him for forgery, cheating and other charges. He rejoined the party in January 2018.
On Thursday, Choudhary was summoned by the CM. After a closed-door meeting that lasted around 30 minutes, he submitted his resignation. JD(U)’s Ashok Chaudhary has been given the charge of department.
The Opposition, however, kept up its attack on the CM. “Nitish Kumar is the real culprit. Why did he make a corrupt person the minister?” said RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
CPI-ML state secretary Kunal (he uses only one name) said, “The government had to bow down to pressure of the public.”
According to sources, an FIR was lodged against the minister on February 20, 2017, with the Sabour police station in Bhagalpur on the directives of the then governor, who was also the chancellor of universities in Bihar, Ram Nath Kovind, who set up a probe committee after several applicants alleged irregularities in appointments.
Choudhary was booked under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine of forged document) and 120 (B) (conspiracy) of the IPC. Three days after the FIR was lodged against him, Choudhary was expelled from the JD(U), party sources said.
On August22, 2017, the Patna high court granted him anticipatory bail. Bhagalpur range DIG Sujit Kumar said, “The Sabaur case in which Mewalal Choudhary is one of the accused is under investigation. The chargesheet has been filed against four persons and does not include Choudhary’s name. Supplementary chargesheets could be filed.”
According to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 163 (68%) legislators out of the 241 newly-elected leaders in the 243-member assembly are facing serious criminal charges.The BJP with 47 (64%) and JD-U with 47% of the winning candidates having declared criminal cases against them.
Social analyst Professor NK Choudhary , former head, department of economics, Patna University, said, “It was a blunder. A bigger blunder was to give him education department. His removal is a welcome step, but it has come only due to relentless media and opposition pressure.”
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