Bihar minister Ashok Choudhary on Wednesday filed a defamation suit against RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav claiming he had recently shared an "edited/doctored" video to say that the state cabinet member had hurled an expletive while speaking about the opposition party.
Choudhary, a Dalit himself, took the step two days after he had slapped a legal notice on Yadav asking him to furnish a reply "within 10 hours of receipt" which elicited no response from the RJD chief ministerial candidate.
In his complaint filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Patna, Choudhary, who holds the building construction portfolio in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, has invoked Sections 499 and 500 (criminal defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Notably, Choudhary had in the video sought to dismiss an "open letter" by Lalu Prasad, Yadav's father and RJD's founding president, wherein he had expressed his commitment to keep fighting for the depressed and oppressed (dalit aur shoshit) classes of Bihar despite being away in Ranchi, serving sentences in fodder scam cases.
Choudhary, who had previously headed the state Congress but joined the JD(U) three years ago following factional feuds, had pooh-poohed the RJD supremos rhetoric and asked what did he and his wife Rabri Devi do for the underprivileged during the 15 years they held the chief minister's post between themselves.
Incidentally, Choudhary was a member of the cabinet headed by Rabri Devi from the Congress quota.
In his defamation suit he pointed out that Yadav was his former cabinet colleague referring to the period when the RJD leader was the Deputy CM while Choudhary got a cabinet berth from the Congress quota in the Grand Alliance government headed by Nitish Kumar and aware of his Dalit identity.
Debunking Yadav's allegation of use of foul language, Choudhary sought to highlight that he was "highly educated", a Ph.D. holder whose research papers have been published in International journals and that he presented one of these at Harvard University in 2016.
The minister asserted that the RJD leader had uploaded the video with the "mala fide intention" to defame him ahead of the assembly elections in the state.
Choudhary urged the court that in the light of the aforementioned facts and circumstances, Yadav be prosecuted and punished for the "defamatory and unsubstantiated statements" and slapped with "punitive damages..in accordance with law".