Patna, Feb. 18: In a crackdown on indiscipline in his council of ministers, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today sacked excise minister Jamshed Ashraf for violating the code of oath of office and secrecy and resorting to irresponsible conduct.
Nitish forwarded the dismissal letter to Governor Debanand Kunwar, who instantly accepted it. Earlier, Nitish had asked the minister to resign to which he did not respond, inviting the axe.
Ashraf had written a letter to the chief minister, accusing the latters office of being responsible for a Rs 500 crore scandal in the excise department. In the letter, he had alleged that CMO officials had violated his (Ashrafs) orders and given contract for sale of liquor to fake and illegal traders.
I got the ministers letter investigated by the chief secretary and other senior officials concerned to find that every contract in his department had his sanction, Nitish said. Under the oath of office and secrecy, the minister in question should not divulge the content of correspondence between him and me, he added.
Ashrafs allegations coincided with ousted state JD(U) chief and party MP Lallan Singhs statement that Nitish Kumar has not been working in a democratic manner and there was lack of co-ordination between the government and the party. Ashraf, a millionaire hotelier, was believed to be close to Singh. A section of party leaders suspected that Ashraf had involved the CMs office in the scam at Singhs behest.
However, another party MP Monajir Hasan denied that Ashraf had written to the chief minister at Singhs instigation. Ashraf violated the code of conduct and the chief minister has taken the right action by sacking him, he said.
I do not subscribe to the view that Ashraf implicated the chief ministers office in the so called scam at the behest of Lallan Singh, who still is a respected party leader, Monajir added.