Importance of being Lalkeshwar Singh

Absconding former school board chief is no stranger to controversy, while new chairman skirts contentious topics

By Roshan Kumar
  • Published 10.06.16
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Vishun Roy College in Vaishali and (below) Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh. Telegraph pictures

Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh, who resigned as Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) chairman on Wednesday and is evading arrest over the Intermediate results scam case, is no stranger to controversy.

Before being appointed BSEB chairman in 2014, he was principal of Patna College from 2009 to 2013. During his tenure, there were student protests alleging financial irregularities in renovation and construction of some college buildings. Sources said that there were also shouts and murmurs against him when he was running a housing cooperative at Sanichara in Sandalpur area of Patna.

However, no police case was lodged against him.

Lalkeshwar, who joined Patna University in 1978 as geography teacher, is the husband of Usha Sinha - a former JDU legislator from Hilsa in chief minister Nitish Kumar's home district Nalanda.

In the 2014 matriculation exam results, Shalini Rai - daughter of Amit Kumar alias Baccha Rai, principal and director of Vishun Roy College in Vaishali which produced a number of Intermediate toppers this year and which is under the scanner - was declared the topper, securing 97.2 per cent. She was the only candidate that year to score more than 90 per cent out of a total 13.5 lakh candidates.

"The Vishun Roy College's nexus with the board became more evident in 2015 when around 222 students from the college secured identical marks in the Intermediate science exams. Such anomalies on the part of the board were not as glaring before," a BSEB official said under cover of anonymity. "Also in the same year, the board was in the news for changing the Intermediate topper just a week after declaration of results. Initially, Vikash Kumar who had secured 429 marks was declared the science stream topper, but within two days Vishal Kumar - another Vishun Roy College student with 431 marks - was declared the topper."

Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj, who is heading the special investigation team (SIT) probing this year's Intermediate results scam case, told The Telegraph: "We have found clear evidences of the involvement of Lalkeshwar Singh in the topper scam. We are investigating the case and we will correlate the results with his involvement in previous years' results too."

Academic circles are abuzz about Lalkeshwar's political backing.

"The state government, by asking Lalkeshwar to tender his resignation instead of sacking him, tried to save him," said a senior teacher at Patna University on condition of anonymity.

Lalkeshwar's affinity for the JDU is well documented. In 2012, when retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju had said while attending a function at Patna College that there was no press freedom in Bihar under the Nitish Kumar government, the only person to oppose him was Lalkeshwar, who was then the college principal.

Lalkeshwar is also related to Arun Kumar, the former vice-chancellor of Magadh University, B.N. Mandal University and Nalanda Open University, who is facing a criminal case by vigilance in connection with the appointment of teachers at Magadh University.