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Tainted minister induction raises eyebrows

Patna, June 3: The induction of Mahachandra Prasad Singh into the council of ministers on Monday has created a flutter in the political circles.

Mahachandra has already been chargesheeted in a murder case and is facing trial in a Saran court.

Mahachandra’s name figured as an accused in a case (No. 69/04) lodged with the Baniapur police station in Saran district in connection with the killing of one Mantoo Sinha. Mantoo was murdered in the Salempur locality of Chhapra town on April 26, 2004, during the general elections.

Mahachandra had unsuccessfully contested the 2004 Lok Sabha polls as an Independent candidate from Maharajganj. The deceased was associated with a political party and had reportedly played an important role in ensuring his defeat in the election.

The police submitted the chargesheet against Mahachandra in the court and subsequently the charges were framed in the court of the chief judicial magistrate Navneet Kumar Pandey (sessions trial No. 797/2012). Mahachandra, in the meantime, approached Patna High Court, which granted him bail in the case.

A close associate of Mahachandra, however, claimed that he had been falsely implicated in the case.

“At that time he (Mahachandra) was in Congress and his political rivalry was no secret,” he said, adding that earlier Mahachandra had contested election from the same seat as Congress candidate in 1998 and 1999.

Mahachandra took the oath of office and secrecy on Sunday and was subsequently allotted public health and engineering department. Despite repeated attempts, the minister could not be contacted for his comments. “Give your cellphone number, Mantriji will call you,” a staff deputed at his office said. However, no such call was received till evening.

The induction of Mahachandra even after being chargesheeted in a serious criminal offence like murder has trashed the claims of good governance in the state.

“The government should look into the matter. It’s the responsibility of the mukhiya (head of the government) that no person having been chargesheeted in a murder case be given constitutional post,” said state BJP president Mangal Pandey.

Pandey said he did not expect from the present dispensation that persons having clean image would be inducted in the council of ministers. “Aisa sochna hin bemani hai (I can’t event think of it),” he added.

Another BJP worker Rajiv Kumar Singh demanded from the government that speedy trial be conducted against Mahachandra.

In November 2005, incumbent chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi had to resign from the post within 24 hours of taking oath as he was an accused in a BEd scam probed by the state vigilance investigation bureau.

Manjhi was re-inducted in the Nitish Kumar cabinet only after he was absolved of the charge in 2008.

Recently, minister for art, culture and youth affairs Vinay Bihari had to surrender in a Bhojpur court to seek bail in a case related to composition of vulgar songs for a Bhojpuri album. The court had issued property attachment order against Bihari, the JD(U) MLA from Lauria Assembly constituency in West Champaran district.