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Bihar minister in the dock after TV sting
January 03, 2006 14:30 IST
Last Updated: January 03, 2006 16:57 IST
A senior Bihar Minister, who is in the eye of a storm after being caught on camera seeking favour for a jail inmate charged with corruption, today pleaded innocence saying he merely sought proper treatment for a physically challenged man on "humanitarian grounds".0
State Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also came to the aid of embattled Ramashray Prasad Singh, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, dismissing the demand for his sacking as he found nothing serious about it.
Singh was shown last night by a private TV channel asking state's Home Secretary H C Sirohi over phone to shift Bhanu Prakash, a physically challenged employee of the Bihar Public Service Commission, from Beur Jail in Patna to hospital.
Singh was shown on ETV (Bihar) speaking to Sirohi, whom he requested to shift Prakash, an analyst programmer in the computer division of the BPSC, arrested recently on the charge of corruption, to a hospital as he came from "a respectable family and is handicapped."
Prakash is a relative of former state Congress minister O P Lal.
Singh told PTI he had spoken to Sirohi for "proper treatment" of the accused on "humanitarian grounds".
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar came to the defence of his embattled minister, whose sacking was demanded by Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party, saying "it is nothing serious."
"Singh merely asked the home secretary to shift the jailed person, who is physically challenged, to the hospital for better treatment. There is nothing wrong about it," Kumar told reporters.
Kumar, who also holds the home portfolio, said, "The minister met me personally to explain the situation and there is nothing more to say in this regard. There is no question of Bihar's vigilance bureau favouring anybody," he asserted.
Prakash, BPSC chairman Ram Singhasan Singh and several others were arrested on December 29 last year for their alleged involvement in irregularities in the selection of 184 candidates for elevation to the Bihar Administrative Service in a limited competitive examination in 2003.
Later, addressing a press conference in his chamber at the Bihar Assembly, Singh dubbed the footage by the channel as "improper" and alleged it was part of a "conspiracy to sully my clean image."
"Since the issue also involved human rights, I merely told the home secretary to ensure proper treatment for him as Prakash is physically challenged," he said.
Singh said "I never compromised on the issue of corruption in my long career in politics. I did nothing that can influence the probe in the case."
Singh, who got quite emotional during the press conference, said, "O P Lal (Prakash's relative and a former Bihar minister) is an old acquaintance. When he told me that his arrested relative is physically challenged and not keeping well, I phoned the home secretary. Apart from being a minister I am a human being."
Meanwhile, terming Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's claim of "clean governance" as "completely hollow", the LJP demanded Singh's immediate arrest and his dismissal from government.
Ramashray Prasad Singh, was LJP's Legislature Group leader in the 13th Assembly, which was dissolved without being summoned even once. He had later quit the party to join Janata Dal (United) and contested the recent assembly elections from Makhdumpur but lost.
Singh was accommodated in the Nitish Kumar ministry despite his defeat because of his vast administrative experience as minister in successive Congress governments in the state.