Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday dismissed allegations of “return of jungle raj” by the BJP and asserted that the controversy surrounding newly inducted minister and RJD MLC Kartikeya Singh was being “looked into” for suitable action.
The JD(U) leader also reprimanded party MLA Bima Bharti for raising questions over re-induction of Leshi Singh, who has been a minister for many years, and said the rebellious legislator will be “properly briefed by the party”.
Kumar, who now heads a government that includes, besides his party and RJD, the Congress and the Left extending support from outside, was talking to reporters at the IGIMS hospital here where he had gone to enquire about the well being of Bijendra Prasad Yadav, the eldest member of his cabinet, who was admitted previous night after taking ill.
Kumar was asked by journalists about the allegations of “return of jungle raj” by BJP leaders, who have been bombarding social media with incidents of crime and criminal cases involving ministers in the new cabinet, sore over loss of power.
“I will answer them at an appropriate time. They are speaking a lot. At this moment, I just need to assure the people that the pace of development under the new dispensation will be greater than ever before”, said the chief minister.
Asked about a criminal case involving Kartikeya Singh, the state’s law minister, Kumar said, “The matter is being looked into. Whatever is needed will be done.” The chief minister had on Wednesday said he had no information about the controversy surrounding Singh, known to be close to dreaded former Mokama MLA Anant Kumar Singh who was disqualified last month after conviction in a case relating to recovery of explosives, arms and ammunition from his house.
Kumar, the JD(U)’s de facto leader, reacted with obvious displeasure when he was asked about the outbursts of Bima Bharti, a former minister herself, who was livid over the re-induction of Leshi Singh.
Both Singh and Bharti got elected from adjoining assembly segments of Purnea district. Singh’s late husband and Bharti’s spouse are said to have been rivals with a reputation for use of muscle power.
“There is no problem with Leshi Singh,” Kumar stated about the minister for food and consumer protection, pointing out that she has been in the cabinet for long.
The CM also disapproved of Bharti “who has herself been made a minister in the past”, going public with her grievances.
“She will be tackled at the party level. If she sees reason, fine, else she shall be free to chart her own course,” Kumar said curtly.
The CM was also asked about his meeting with RJD president Lalu Prasad, his arch rival whose younger son Tejashwi Yadav is back as his deputy while elder one Tej Pratap Yadav has also been given a cabinet berth.
“He and I go a long way back. We may have treaded separate paths for some time, but you all know the relationship we share,” said Kumar about Prasad whom he has often called his “bada bhai” (elder brother) notwithstanding a fierce political rivalry.
According to sources close to the ailing RJD supremo, the septuagenarian had on Wednesday night requested the chief minister to stay put and “guide” his children in their political journey.
“Don’t go here and there anymore,” Prasad is said to have told Kumar in a jocular vein, in an oblique reference to the chief minister having made many a political about turn.