A fresh row emerged between the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar as the saffron party, on Wednesday, 17 August, questioned Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the induction of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Kartikeya Singh as the state’s law minister into the Cabinet on Tuesday.
An arrest warrant reportedly remains pending against RJD MLC Kartikeya Singh in a 2014 kidnapping case where 16 others, including former Mokama MLA Anant Singh, have also been named as accused.
Singh was asked to surrender in a Danapur court in Bihar on 16 August, the day he took the oath of office.
Kartikeya Singh, CM Nitish Kumar Respond
Speaking to ANI, Kartikeya Singh said, “All MLAs and ministers submit an affidavit, there is nothing like this in it.”
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, when asked about the warrant against Singh, said, “I do not know, I have no information about this.”
Singh's advocate, Madhusudan Sharma, told ANI, "Reports of Kartikeya Singh absconding in a kidnapping case are baseless. He's not an accused in the matter; his involvement not mentioned in the probe."
Sharma added, "No evidence was found against him; police proved him innocent."
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told news agency ANI, “We expect Patna High Court to take serious notice of this. I expect CM Nitish Kumar to show some courage.”
“Kartikeya Singh should be sacked and strict action should be taken against him,” the former Union law and justice minister added.
BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi said, “If Kartikeya Singh had a warrant against him, he should have surrendered. But he has taken an oath as the law minister.”
Urging Kumar to dismiss the minister, Sushil Modi added, “I ask Nitish, is he trying to take Bihar back to Lalu's times? Kartikey Singh should be immediately dismissed.”
Union Minister RK Singh also spoke to ANI and said, “I am from Bihar and I am ashamed of what's happening. Jungle Raj has begun. The law minister himself is an absconder, that too in a kidnapping case.”
“He is the right hand of Anant Singh, who is a don. Does the CM not know? Kartikeya Singh should be sacked,” he added.
The Bihta Police had booked Singh under sections 363 (kidnapping), 364 (kidnapping with intent to murder), and 365 (Secret, unjustified kidnapping with intent to imprison), The Indian Express reported. This came after one Raju Singh, once a close aide of Anant Singh, was allegedly kidnapped over a dispute about financial transactions in 2014 near Patna.
Singh claims that he has been falsely charged and that there is no warrant against him. He was granted interim protection till 1 September by the court.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI and The Indian Express)