(MENAFN - NewsBytes)
76% of Nitish's cabinet face criminal charges: Better than before?
03 Aug 2017
Last week, Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the Bihar chief minister for the sixth time. With a new JD(U)-BJP government, comes a new cabinet.
It has now come to light that 22 of the 29 ministers in the new cabinet - a whopping 76% - have criminal cases filed against them.
Is it any better or worse than earlier? We take a look.
When Nitish first became CM, 68 MLAs faced criminal charges
When Nitish first became CM in 2005, 68 MLAs in the 243-member assembly faced criminal charges.
Five years later during his second term with the BJP, this number made a drastic jump to 141. JD(U) had 118 MLAs; 58 were facing criminal charges.
Six of the top 10 MLAs facing serious charges were from JD(U). Eight JD(U) ministers had criminal charges pending against them.
Lalu Prasad's sons, 'criminals', joined the Nitish cabinet in 2015
In 2015, Nitish came to power with the RJD-Congress Grand Alliance. According to election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), in his then 29-strong cabinet, 19 ministers faced criminal charges.
Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav and Health Minister Tej Pratap Yadav, sons of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, had about 10 cases filed against them.
According to the Alliance, most cases were "politically motivated".
What about the King himself?
Unsurprisingly, Nitish himself faces at least seven serious charges, including one of murder filed in 1991. Recently, Lalu Prasad tweeted an image of that affidavit.
Ironically, Nitish walked away from the Grand Alliance saying he doesn't want to hobnob with "corrupt people".
Lalu replied, "The charge against Nitish is much more serious and bigger than the charge of corruption (against Tejashwi)."
Nitish had a trick up his sleeve for his dons
Nitish managed to indirectly keep on tainted ministers by his side: by officially fielding their spouse instead.
Ajay Singh's wife Kavita won the election, but it's he who makes decisions. As Munna Shukla languished behind bars, his wife Annu handled affairs on the outside.
Poonam Devi Yadav (W/O Ranbir Yadav), Lesi Singh (W/O Butan Singh) and Beema Bharti (W/O Awadesh Mandal) fulfilled similar roles.
So how's Nitish done in terms of controlling crime?
When he first won in 2005, Nitish's hard approach led to 54,000 criminals being convicted in the first five years. Murders fell by 3% during 2005-2008.
However, kidnapping cases rose drastically: from 674 in 2003, it consistently rose to 4,419 in 2013.
Crimes against women have generally been declining till the number shot up in 2013 - a 21% rise from the previous year.
But there's likely to be under-reporting of crime in Bihar
Bihar, India's third-most populous and sixth-poorest state, has the lowest literacy rate of 61.8%. Though there's no data, under-reporting of crimes is highly likely. Eg, in 2014, Bihar recorded 574 assaults on women, surprisingly much lower than MP (9,618), Rajasthan (6,015) and even Kerala (4,412).
On another note: The ministers' average income is Rs. 2.46cr
Apart from criminal netas, the report on the new cabinet also details ministers' wealth: average income is Rs. 2.46cr, but the crorepatis dropped from 22 in the previous cabinet to 21.
Labor Resources minister Vijay Kumar Sinha has assets worth Rs. 15.50cr while Urban Development Department Minister Suresh Kumar owns property of Rs. 11cr.
Water Resources Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh is worth Rs. 5cr.