Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday reprimanded JD(U) MLA Bima Bharti for raising questions over the inclusion of Leshi Singh in the cabinet and said the legislator will be properly briefed by the party.
Bharti was livid with the party for choosing her colleague Leshi Singh in the cabinet and threatened to resign over the matter. Singh has been a minister for many years. Both the women got elected from adjoining assembly segments of Purnea district.
Talking to reporters outside a hospital, a displeased Kumar said he was shocked at Bharti’s reaction as Singh had been a minister thrice before. He said it was not possible to accommodate everyone in the cabinet.
“Everyone cannot be given a post in the cabinet. We have already given her (Leshi Singh) a post in 2013, 2014 and 2019. I’m shocked that she (Bima Bharti) has given such a statement. We will talk about this. She shouldn’t have said this, it is absolutely wrong,” Kumar added.
#WATCH | We’ve already given her (Leshi Singh) a post in our cabinet in 2013, 2014 & 2019. I’m shocked that she(Bima Bharti) has given such a statement, she was a minister in 2014 & 2019. I’ll meet her & discuss about this: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on JDU MLA Bima Bharti’s statement pic.twitter.com/rGK0oVxsse
— ANI (@ANI) August 18, 2022
In a veiled accusation, Bharti asked if the chief minister had passed her over for belonging to a backward caste. She further said Singh had been chosen despite bringing “disrepute” to the party.
“I’m upset only about JDU MLA Leshi Singh always being chosen in the cabinet. What does the CM see in her? She is repeatedly involved in incidents in her area and brings disrepute to the party. Why are we not heard? Is it because we’re from a backward caste?” Bharti asked.
She added: “If Leshi Singh is not removed, I will resign from the party. If my allegation against her is wrong, then I will resign as an MLA.”
Kumar said Bharti’s statements were unfair as the party had given her a lot of respect and she had twice been a minister in the cabinet. But, he also issued a warning saying she could go elsewhere if she was unable to see reason.
“We will talk to her (Bharti) and try to convince her not to give such statements about the party. If she does not understand and wants to go elsewhere, she can think about it,” Kumar added.
Leshi Singh, meanwhile, has not reacted to Bharti’s comments against her. She took oath as the food and consumer protection minister on August 16. Singh is the MLA from Dhamdaha assembly and assumed a ministerial charge for the fourth time.
The CM also said he had asked to meet Bharti over her views about the cabinet on Thursday, but she had refused. Hence, he added, he had to make a public statement about the “unnecessary” controversy.
This is not the first controversy since Kumar broke up with the BJP and joined hands with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress to form a new government.
One of the 31 cabinet members sworn in, law minister Kartikeya Singh faces a kidnap case from 2014. Kumar said his government was “taking care” of the matter.
Kartikeya, an RJD MLC, also has close ties with jailed don Anant Singh and is considered his right-hand man. Anant, the RJD leader from Mokama is popularly known as ‘Chote Sarkar’ and lost his seat after being sentenced to 10 years in prison just two months ago.
Alleging the return of jungle raj, the BJP said it was under Anant Singh’s influence that Kartikeya was made a minister in the new government. The saffron party has sought his dismissal from the post of a minister as there was an arrest warrant against him. On August 16, Kartikeya skipped a court hearing in the case to attend his oath taking ceremony.
But, Nitish Kumar dismissed the BJP’s allegations of jungle raj and said the controversy surrounding Kartikeya was being looked into for suitable action.