In the first move against the perception that strongmen and lawlessness have returned to Bihar under the new RJD-JDU regime, the Nitish Kumar government on Wednesday removed Kartik Kumar as the law minister and allotted him the low-profile sugarcane department. Kumar is an MLC from Lalu Prasad’s party RJD.
This comes just a day before Kartik Kumar is expected to appear in court in a kidnapping case with his interim protection from court against any coercive action ending on September 1. It seems the Nitish Kumar government was wary of humiliation if the court made any adverse comment against Kartik Kumar on September 1 and wanted to avoid the bad optics of the state law minister appearing before the court in a kidnapping matter.
Kartik Kumar was incidentally earlier backed by RJD supremo Lalu Prasad when the allegations against him broke out a fortnight ago. Lalu had said then that the allegations were wrong. However, the chief minister decided to go ahead with his decision to remove Kartik Kumar. RJD’s Shamim Ahmad has been made the new law minister.
This will give further ammunition to the BJP now which had been gunning for Kartik Kumar. He is the right-hand man of jailed don and former RJD MLA from Mokama, Anant Singh, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail just two months ago and hence lost his assembly seat from the party. The BJP has been alleging that it was under Singh’s influence that his prodigy, Kartik Kumar, was made the law minister in the new government.
Kartik Kumar, who is popularly known as ‘Master Sahib’ given he was a school teacher earlier, also comes from Mokama and just a few months ago, was made an MLC from Patna by the RJD. Anant Singh is said to have played a key role from jail in the election of Kumar as an MLC and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad had himself announced his name for the post. Slogans of ‘Chote Sarkar Zindabad’ were raised after Kartik Kumar was sworn in as the state’s new law minister earlier this month, explaining the close relations that Singh and Kumar share.
The BJP has been attacking the new government since Kumar was sworn in as the law minister. The party is seeking his dismissal as he was named earlier in a kidnapping case and there is an arrest warrant against him. Kumar did not attend a court hearing on August 16 in the case when he took oath as the minister. This kidnapping case of builder Raju Singh dates back to 2014. Kartik Kumar earlier said a lower court had given him protection from arrest till September 1 and his application for anticipatory bail has been accepted by court for hearing. He has also claimed that police have given him a clean chit in the final investigation report.