Bihar education minister Mewalal Choudhary resigns over corruption row

Mewalal Chaudhary stepped down after RJD flagged a 5-year-old corruption case against him
Mewalal Chaudhary
Mewalal Chaudhary

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's fourth term started off to a rocky start with the resignation of a minister three days after he and his 14-member cabinet took oath. Mewa Lal Chaudhary, whose appointment to the post of Education Minister had triggered a controversy on account of a corruption taint, tendered his resignation today.

A Raj Bhavan communiqué said Chaudhary's resignation has been accepted on the recommendation of the Chief Minister. Building construction minister Ashok Chaudhary has been given additional charge of the education ministry, it said.

Chaudhary, who belongs to Janata Dal (United), 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.

Speaking to a news agency, Choudary said that an accusation is proven only when a chargesheet is filed or a court gives an order. He pointed out that neither of the two is there to prove the allegations made against him.

The opposition parties, especially Rashtriya Janata Dal had attacked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for inducting Choudhary as the Education Minister even though he faced corruption charges and was suspended from the party over the issue. They had demanded that he be sacked.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said Choudhary’s charges under the Indian Penal Code included cheating and dishonestly (section 420), and criminal conspiracy (120B). "Has Chief Minister Nitish Kumar awarded Mewalal Choudhary for corruption and given him the freedom to loot?" he asked in a tweet.

The 67-year-old JD(U) leader was suspended from his party in 2017 after an FIR was registered against him over alleged irregularities in appointments of assistant professors and junior scientists in 2012 during his tenure as the Vice-Chancellor of the Bihar Agriculture University. 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 had retained his seat in the just-concluded Bihar polls and was made the Education Minister.

Meanwhile, an old video of Chaudhary struggling to get the lines of the national anthem during a flag-hoisting ceremony, shared recently by the Rashtriya Janata Dal has gone viral. Towards the end of the 38-second clip, he is seen saying “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Vande” as the children say “Mataram”.

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