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Last Updated : Nov 20, 2020 07:03 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

How Bihar’s education minister Mewalal Choudhary was forced to step down within an hour of taking charge

The case which put paid to Choudhary's ministerial hopes, pertained to the appointment of 166 assistant and junior scientists in the Agriculture University in 2012. The allegation was that lesser-qualified candidates had got through.

Mewalal Choudhary, Bihar's newly-appointed education minister, had a proverbially brief brush with fame - or notoriety.

He was forced to step down from the position on November 19, three days after taking the oath of office - and within an hour of taking charge.

The 67-year-old Janata Dal (United) leader and MLA from Tarapur was reportedly forced to resign over allegations of irregularities in the selection of faculty members during his tenure as Vice Chancellor of Bihar Agriculture University, Sabaur, between 2010 and 2015.

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Choudhary, among 14 BJP and JD (U) leaders who took oath in the Nitish Kumar cabinet on November 15, assumed charge of the education department at 11 am on November 19, but sent in his resignation to the CM within an hour, sources said.

Nitish had called Choudhary to his official residence on the evening of November 18 and informed him that he could not be allowed to take the charge as a minister because the BJP had raised objections, the Print said in a report, quoting sources. However, Choudhary insisted he would take charge and then resign, the report said.

The BJP emerged as senior partner in the alliance with 74 seats, while the JD (U) won 43 in the recently-concluded Bihar elections which the NDA won by bagging 125 seats. In 2015 assembly polls, the BJP had won 53 and the JD (U) had 71.

The Opposition RJD had raised the issue of corruption allegations against Choudhary. The party also released an old video in which Choudhary purportedly fumbled while reciting the lines of the national anthem.

The case which put paid to Choudhary's ministerial hopes, pertained to the appointment of 166 assistant and junior scientists in the Agriculture University in 2012. The allegation was that lesser-qualified candidates had got through. Choudhary, a PhD in Horticulture from the Banaras Hindu University, was Vice-Chancellor of the Sabour University in Bhagalpur before he joined politics.

Choudhary left the job and contested the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections from Tarapur in Munger district on a JD (U) ticket and won. Before him, his wife Neeta Choudhary, had held the seat from 2010-15. Neeta Choudhary died in a gas cylinder blast in 2019.

Choudhary was, however, suspended from the JD (U) in 2017 after a criminal case was filed against him amid attacks by the BJP, then in the opposition, on the Nitish Kumar-led Mahagathbandhan government. A probe by a retired Patna High Court judge found all the charges against Chaudhary to be true. He went underground to avoid arrest until he was given anticipatory bail. A chargesheet is yet to be filed in the case, though.

Choudhary, who belongs to the OBC Kushwaha community who are the core voters of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), retained the Tarapur seat in Munger district in the recently-concluded assembly polls again. He is also said to be close to JD (U)’s Rajya Sabha MP Ramchandra Prasad Singh.

Sources said the BJP had expressed reservations over his appointment as the minister in the new NDA government as soon as he was sworn in. The party could, however, not put pressure on removing his name from the list of ministers earlier, because it had received the names for the oath-taking function on the same day, they said.

“I resigned on my own. I have not been charge-sheeted in any case,” Mewalal said after his resignation. The new cabinet has six JD (U) leaders including Nitish Kumar and seven leaders, including the two deputy CMs, from the BJP.

Construction minister Ashok Chaudhary has been given additional charge of the education department in Bihar.
First Published on Nov 20, 2020 05:57 pm
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