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George, Nitish camps trade fire
- Samata discord intensifies as ministers try to outdo each other

Patna, April 6: The proxy war between railway minister Nitish Kumar and defence minister George Fernandes escalated today with the former’s lobby trying to expel Samata Legislature Party leader Umashankar Singh for allegedly showing bias towards the party president.

At yesterday’s stormy meet, P.K. Sinha, a staunch Fernandes supporter, was expelled from the party’s body in the Bihar Legislative Council.

Singh today spoke for Sinha, saying the expulsion was not constitutional.

“I will write to the chairman of the legislative council, Jabir Hussain, on the illegal manner in which Sinha was removed,” he said. Singh expressed surprise that the railway minister chooses to keep silent on the issue while his supporters behave in an autocratic manner and publicly insult Fernandes.

In retaliation, according to party insiders, the Nitish lobby severely criticised Singh for issuing a press statement on the proceedings at yesterday’s legislative body meet.

He was accused of not voicing the concerns of the majority of members. Upset at the way he was being targeted, Singh hinted that he might be removed.

Chargesheet on Laloo

The CBI has filed the seventh chargesheet against former Bihar chief ministers Laloo Prasad Yadav and Jagannath Mishra and 44 others in the animal husbandry department scam in which Rs 900 crore had been siphoned off between 1988 and 1996.

The chargesheet, filed last evening at the special trial court in Patna, will come up for hearing before special CBI judge S.K. Mishra. The court will also consider taking cognisance of it on April 21. Mishra and Laloo Yadav are on bail in connection with the cases.

The present case relates to the siphoning of funds from the Bhagalpur and Banka treasury.

Laloo Yadav and Mishra have been accused of being part of conspiracy to loot the treasury. At the time the fraud is alleged to have been committed, Laloo Yadav was chief minister and also held the finance portfolio.

He allegedly failed to ensure greater vigilance on the regular fraudulent withdrawal of funds from the animal husbandry department. Similar charges have been levelled against Mishra who was chief minister of the state during the late eighties.

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