PATNA: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has come under fire for adopting double standards in similar cases.
Even as the chief minister asked three of his ministers in his cabinet to go over ever lighter charges in the past, he has come out in defence of social welfare minister Manju Verma whose department is now in the eye of storm over alleged mass rape of girls at a shelter home based in Muzaffarpur town.
A medical examination has confirmed rape of as many as 34 girls out o total 44 lodged at that care home, leading to a CBI investigation into the entire case and prompting the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance of the case.
The Patna High Court too has decided to monitor the ongoing CBI investigation into the horrible sex scandal, dealing a severe blow to the image of the state. But the chief minister and his ally, the BJP continue “defending” the minister in question.
“She (the minister) has denied her involvement in the case. A CBI probe is underway. Anyone found guilty, even the ministers, will be sent to jail. None will be spared,” Kumar replied to a pointed query by the newsmen today.
The minister is currently in the eye of storms after the name of her husband cropped up in connection with the shelter home’s sex scandal. The opposition has been alleging that the minister’s husband was the frequent visitor to the shelter home for girls.
His party offered even bizarre explanations over opposition’s demand for resignation of the social welfare minister. “Manju Verma is nowhere related to the scandal.
There is controversy over her husband but the matter is under investigation,” JD-U spokesperson Sanjay Singh told the media today.
What was more surprising, the BJP too expressed its solidarity with the minister and instead questioned the opposition for seeking resignation of the minister in question.
“BJP is fully in support of Manju Verma. No charges against her. Those who have been charge-sheeted and summoned by the CBI court in railway tender scam, whose two dozens benami property attached by the RD, Income Tax and lecturing us on morality,” tweeted deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.
Strangely, the same chief minister had acted differently in similar cases in the past. The first to get the axe was Jitan Ram Manjhi who was asked to resign minutes after he had taken oath as a minister in the Nitish Kumar government in its first tenure in 2005.
Manjhi was asked to go just when the chief minister was informed a vigilance case was pending against his cabinet colleague. He was re-inducted into the cabinet after his name was cleared in the case.
Similar thing happened with former transport minister Ramanand Prasad Singh who was asked to step down in 2008. He was asked to resign after name figured in a similar vigilance case relating alleged irregularities committed in purchase of hose pipes for use in the Kanti Thermal Power Station.
The minister was the fuel in-charge at the thermal power plant and had recommended the purchase of those pipes.
The third minister to go over the same issue was Ramadhar Prasad Singh, a BJP leaders, who had been declared an absconder in an old case relating to his inflammatory speech he had made in Aurangabad district in 1992. He had to resign in 2011.