Amid Bihar Political Crisis, Jitan Ram Manjhi Names College After Scam-Tainted Former Chief Minister

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Patna:  In a decision that is bound to raise a few eyebrows, the Bihar Cabinet led by Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi today decided to rename a government engineering college in the state after former Chief Minister Dr Jagannath Mishra.

Mr Mishra, a three-time Chief Minister of the state, was convicted in the multi-crore fodder scam on charges of conspiracy. He was sentenced for over three years in prison by a special Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI court in 2013, but was granted bail on medical grounds within months.

He was chargesheeted in several cases in the fodder scam, but was granted relief in all but one case on the ground of double perjury, under which a person already convicted in a case cannot be tried over similar charges in other cases.

This is perhaps the first time a state cabinet has decided to name an institution after a convicted politician.

Incidentally, Dr Mishra’s son Nitish is a minister in Mr Manjhi’s cabinet and both he and his father are considered to be staunch supporters of the current Chief Minister, who has defied calls from his party Janata Dal – United to step down.

The Bihar Governor has asked Mr Manjhi, who is engaged in an intense tussle with his mentor and senior JD-U leader Nitish Kumar, to prove his majority in the state assembly in a vote of confidence on February 20.

Mr Kumar, who resigned after his party’s defeat in the national elections nine months ago and picked Mr Manjhi as his successor, now wants his post back. But Mr Manjhi has refused to budge.

The BJP’s legislators will meet on Wednesday to decide whether to support Mr Manjhi during the trust vote; but sources say that the party is likely to authorise its high command to take a final call on the matter.

Bihar Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary has also called a meeting of leaders of all political parties on Monday to discuss arrangements for the confidence vote.

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