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Nitish Kumar's new term begins amid first controversy

Nitish Kumars new term begins amid first controversy
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Patna: As many as eight of 14 newly sworn-in ministers in Bihar have criminal cases pending against them, and six of them have serious criminal cases declared against themselves, according to an analysis of the self-sworn election affidavits of the members of the new Nitish Kumar Cabinet.

The Bihar Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms analysed the affidavits of 14 of the 15 ministers, including the Chief Minister, finding that eight of them, or 57 per cent of the ministers, have criminal cases pending against them.

Affidavits of two out of six ministers analysed from the JD(U), four out of six ministers analysed from the BJP, one minister analysed from the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and one from the Vikassheel Insaan Party show criminal cases against them, the poll rights group said.

As many as 13 (93 per cent) are crorepatis with their average assets pegged at Rs 3.93 crores, the report said.

The minister with the highest declared total assets is Mewa Lal Choudhary from Tarapur constituency with assets worth Rs 12.31 crore and the minister with the lowest declared total assets is Ashok Chaudhary with assets worth Rs 72.89 lakh, it said.

Four (29 per cent) ministers have declared their educational qualification to be between 8th and 12th standard, while 10 (71 per cent) ministers have declared having an educational qualification of graduate or above, it said.

A total of six (43 per cent) ministers have declared their age to be between 41-50 years, while eight (57 per cent) ministers have declared their age to be between 51-75 years. Out of 14 ministers, two are women, it added.

Bihar's main Opposition RJD and its allies on Wednesday attacked Nitish Kumar for appointing JD(U)'s Mewalal Choudhary as the Education minister even though he faces corruption charges and was suspended from the party over the issue, and demanded he be sacked.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said Choudhary, former vice-chancellor of an agriculture university and a first-time minister, faces serious charges under the Indian Penal Code including 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.

Choudhary, 67, was suspended from the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) 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.

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