Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Wednesday he had no idea the state’s new Justice Minister Kartikeya Singh was involved in criminal cases. Kumar’s statement came amid allegations of BJP corruption and crime back in the state as Singh was reportedly asked to appear in court in a kidnapping case on August 16 – the day he was sworn in as minister.
The BJP, which became the Bihar opposition camp of the ruling party within hours last week after Kumar quit the NDA and rekindled ties with Lalu Prasad’s RJD, has been attacking the new cabinet since 31 ministers were sworn in on Tuesday.
The CM, however, told reporters it was unaware of the criminal charges Singh faced. “I don’t know, I don’t have any information about it,” he told ANI news agency.
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BJP Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi has spoken out on Bihar’s new cabinet, which according to an ADR report has more than 70% of ministers facing criminal charges.
“If Kartikeya Singh (RJD) had a warrant against him, he should have surrendered. But he was sworn in as Justice Minister. I ask Nitish, is he trying to bring back Bihar back then of Lalu? Kartikeya Singh should be fired immediately,” he added. said Sushil.
Former Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad echoed Sushil, urging the Patna High Court to take cognizance of the serious matter over Singh. He added that he expects Kumar to “show courage” and take tough action against Bihar’s new justice minister.
Singh was supposed to appear in Danapur court on August 16 in the kidnapping case, but instead was sworn in as justice minister in Kumar’s new government. On August 12, he was granted provisional protection until September 1 by the court, ANI reported.
The justice minister’s lawyer, Madhusudan Sharma, however, dismissed the allegations that his client absconded in the kidnapping case, calling them “baseless”.
“He is not charged in this case, (and) his involvement is not mentioned in the investigation…no evidence has been found against him, (and) the police have proven him innocent”, said Sharma, quoted by ANI.
Prasad, who received a warm welcome from his employees and party officials after landing in Patna from Delhi for the first time since the regime change in Bihar earlier in the day, also dismissed allegations of the saffron unit against Kumar’s new cabinet. Calling Sushil Modi a “liar”, Prasad said that in the next general election in 2024, the BJP-led “dictatorial government” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be dethroned.
Of the 31 ministers who were sworn in on Tuesday, 16 are from the RJD and 11 from Kumar’s JD(U). Two Congress party lawmakers, one from the Hindustani Awam Morch (HAM) and an independent are also in the state cabinet.
Kumar was sworn in as Bihar’s chief minister for the eighth time last week and Tejashwi was sworn in as the new MP.