Sushil draws Manjhi parallel

Misa Bharti outside her Ghitorni farmhouse in New Delhi during a raid conducted by Enforcement Directorate officials on Saturday. Picture by Prem Singh

Patna, July 8: The Bihar BJP looks adamant on adding to chief minister Nitish Kumar’s discomfiture in the wake of the CBI raids against his deputy, Tejashwi Yadav, in a corruption case.

The party on Saturday reminded Nitish of earlier instances when he immediately removed his cabinet colleagues when their names surfaced in cases less serious than the one Tejashwi is facing.

“Nitish ji took less than four hours to remove Jitan Ram Manjhi from his cabinet on the day the NDA government took oath in November 2005 when during a media interaction someone pointed out that a vigilance case was pending against him,” senior BJP leader Sushil Modi said on Saturday. “In the current case you (Nitish) are silent. So, was Manjhi made to resign because he was a Dalit?”

He went on to cite three more examples of ministers – Ramanand Singh, Ramadhar Singh and Awadhesh Prasad Kushwaha – Nitish removed because they were facing cases.

Then transport minister Ramanand Singh was asked to quit his ministerial post after an vigilance case lodged against him earlier, when he was an employee of the Kanti Thermal power plant, surfaced in 2008. Similarly, Ramadhar Singh, who was cooperative department minister, was removed in 2011 when a court summoned him in a case related to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. In the latest example, Awadhesh Kushwaha, an excise minister, was removed from Nitish’s cabinet after he was caught on camera taking a bribe just ahead of the 2015 Assembly elections. “We have to see if the same Nitish rules the state now,” Modi said. “His current deputy Tejashwi Yadav faces a corruption case and is a named accused in the FIR lodged by the CBI. A CBI team had raided his residence. The income tax department has provisionally attached about a dozen of his assets. Given the standard set by Nitish, Tejashwi, too, should be immediately removed.”

He expressed hope that Nitish would take a call on the issue after returning from Rajgir where he has been convalescing for the past two days after taking ill in Patna.

Modi, who was Nitish’s deputy from 2005 to 2013 in the NDA government, also reminded Nitish of his past statement where he maintained that a distinction should be made between people facing corruption cases and those facing other cases which were of political nature to buttress his demand for Tejashwi’s removal from the Bihar ministry.

“Even senior JDU leader Sharad Yadav had said on record that the JDU has a zero tolerance policy towards corruption cases,” Modi said.

Training his gun at Lalu, the BJP leader dared him to come out with a detailed reply on corruption charges levelled against him and his family members. “He should stop using the rhetoric of political vendetta and come out with a point-wise counter to all charges his family members are facing,” Modi said.

Replying to a query about enhanced security cover provided by the state government to him after the CBI raids on Lalu and his family members, Modi said he was not afraid of anybody and had not asked for additional security. “The law and order situation was worse when I was raising the fodder scam issue in 1996. I didn’t care for the threats at that time and I still carry the same attitude,” Modi said.

He also expressed concern at the incident outside Lalu’s residence yesterday where RJD supporters pushed aside some journalists covering the CBI raids.

“I also saw a reporter of a news channel being asked to go out during Lalu ji‘s press conference and Tejashwi calling a channel ‘anti-national’. Is it anti-national if some channel exposes corruption or politicians’ close ties with mafia dons,” Modi asked.