| BJP leaders protest outside the Assembly on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
The once-upon-a-time friends engaged in bitters talks in the Assembly over a corruption charge levelled by the JD(U) against former BJP ministers.
After JD(U) MLA Manjit Kumar levelled charges of corruption against BJP’s Giriraj Singh and Ramadhar Singh when they were ministers during the alliance, there was angry exchange of words between the treasury and the BJP bench, followed by a disruption.
Leader of Opposition Nand Kishore Yadav asked BJP MLAs to walk into the Well of the House and protest. The MLAs not only raised slogans but also hurled charges against chief minister Nitish Kumar. Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary expunged these.
For a change, the BJP let the question hour proceed on Thursday. The trouble began when Manjit Kumar of the JD(U) raised a question related to the setting up of automatic weather machines by insurance companies for analysing crop damage incurred by farmers.
Manjit said according to the agreement, insurance companies were supposed to install automatic weather forecasting machines at a radius of 15km from the agriculture land to analyse the crop losses incurred by the farmers. However, the insurance companies did not install the machines because of which farmers have suffered financial loss to the tune of Rs 50 crore.
Replying to a question, industries and disaster management minister Renu Kumari read out the number of machines installed by insurance companies. “Total 513 machines had been installed in the state,” she said.
The JD(U) MLA challenged the minister’s answer and said officials of her department were misleading her.
He demanded a vigilance probe as the Speaker asked the minister to look into the matter. The minister agreed for a vigilance probe. However, Manjit Kumar alleged that the “scam” took place when BJP ministers were looking after the co-operative department portfolio. “It’s a Rs 100-crore scam. The ministers connived with the insurance companies,” he said. The MLA’s words triggered an outrage in the BJP, who demanded expunging of Manjit’s remark and also sought an apology.
“The minister should first punish the officials who have given her wrong information if the machines have not been installed. Second, we have been out of the government for eight months. If there is irregularity then was the chief minister sitting on the files?” asked Nand Kishore Yadav, taking strong exceptions to the manner the Speaker allowed the JD(U) to name the BJP’s former ministers.
As BJP MLAs trooped into the Well and raised slogans against Nitish, MLA Manjit Kumar stressed that he was making the allegations on the basis of evidence.
“We did not object when the JD(U) MLA demanded a vigilance probe. We objected only after the MLA began to take names,” Yadav said.