Congress rules out sacking of party minister in Bihar

Patna, March 2 (IANS) Ignoring the opposition BJP's demand, Bihar's ruling alliance partner Congress on Thursday ruled out sacking of Bihar Excise and Prohibition Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan over his reported video clip in which he asked people to beat Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photograph with shoes.

Mastan is a Congress leader and the only minister from the backward and under-developed Seemanchal belt, which comprises of Purnia, Kishanganj, Araria and Katihar districts with sizeable Muslim population.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators on Thursday disrupted the Bihar assembly proceeding for the consecutive second day, demanding dismissal of Mastan from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's council of ministers.

After much hue and cry over his controversial statement, Mastan apologised on Wednesday evening, saying "sorry" for it in a bid to put an end to the row.

The BJP members said either Mastan should resign or be removed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his insult to Modi.

BJP legislators created noisy scenes over the issue and rushed to the well of the house and shouted slogans.

They also reiterated they would not allow the state's Grand Alliance government to proceed with the ongoing budget session unless the Chief Minister sacked Mastan.

Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar told the media here that the BJP will march to Raj Bhawan to protest Mastan's statement gainst Modi.

Bihar Pradesh Congress President Ashok Choudhary, who is also the Education Minister, told media that the BJP's demand for Mastan's sacking is baseless.

"Has BJP taken action against its MP Subramaniam Swamy for abusing and using unparliamentary language against Congress President Sonia Gandhi?" he added.

Choudhary challenged the BJP to first take action against Swamy and other party leaders for insulting the Congress President and other leaders.

A senior Congress leader and party legislator, Sadanand Singh said there is no need to sack Mastan.

"Why should he be sacked from the cabinet? He will not be sacked. BJP should explain to people, whether it had sacked any minister for abusing others," Singh, Bihar assembly's former Speaker, said.

Janata Dal-United spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said that Mastan should be given a chance to explain his stand in the assembly over the reported video.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad said that it is for the Congress party to decide what to do or not do with Mastan.

The Congress, JD-U and the RJD are all partners in Bihar's ruling Grand Alliance.

The Excise Minister's video on February 22, that was telecast on a Hindi news channel, also condemned the Centre's November 8, 2016, demonetisation move. The video went viral on the social media.

In the video, Mastan was seen addressing a crowd in Purnea district's Amour assembly constituency, and saying that it was Modi who had promised to face punishment if he failed to end people's woes within 50 days.

It was then that Mastan suggested that the crowd should beat Modi's photograph with their shoes.






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