Bihar Education Minister Mewalal Choudhary resigned from his position on Thursday, three days after taking oath in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government, NDTV reported.
His appointment was heavily criticised by the Opposition in Bihar, who pointed out that Chaudhary was selected for the post despite the fact that he has been charged with several offences, including cheating and criminal conspiracy.
Choudhary, 67, was suspended from Kumar’s party in 2017 after an FIR was registered against him over alleged irregularities in appointments during his tenure as the vice chancellor of the Bihar Agriculture University, Sabour, in Bhagalpur district. He 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 the constituency in the recently-concluded state polls.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav in a tweet addressed to Kumar said that “mere one resignation” is not enough and pointed out poll promises made by the National Democratic Alliance on jobs and equal wages.
“You knowingly appointed a corrupt person as a minister,” he tweeted. “You made him take charge despite criticism and staged a resignation drama hours later.”
Yadav’s party colleague Manoj Jha claimed that the decision was taken by Kumar under pressure from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Meanwhile, the Opposition’s alliance partner Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation demanded the sacking of Health Minister Mangal Pandey, calling him “useless”.
Kumar allocated portfolios to the newly-elected members of his Cabinet on Tuesday. Kumar, along with a 14-member council of ministers, was sworn in by Governor Phagu Chauhan on Monday. Renu Kumari and Prasad took oath as the deputy chief ministers.
The National Democratic Alliance returned to power in Bihar with a slender majority. The coalition won 125 seats in the 243-member State Assembly. The Opposition Grand Alliance bagged 110. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, led by 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats.
Quite significantly, the JD(U) has, for the first time in Bihar, won fewer seats than the BJP, pulling in just 43 to the BJP’s 74. This is reflected in the composition of the state cabinet. The BJP bagged seven berths, while five ministers are from the JD(U). One each is from two smaller allies – the Hindustani Awam Morcha and the Vikassheel Insaan Party.