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The Hindu
The Hindu
Amarnath Tewary

Bihar Agriculture Minister Sudhakar Singh, who flagged corruption, resigns

Bihar Agriculture Minister Sudhakar Singh who, of late, has been hitting the headlines for flagging issues of “rampant corruption” in his department, resigned on Sunday. The Opposition BJP said “a great Indian political comedy circus show” was going on in Bihar.

“Bihar’s Agriculture Minister who has been raising issues related with farmers has sent his resignation letter to the government. We do not want this [embarrassment to the government] to drag further”, said Jagdanand Singh, his father who is also State president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). “Issues and roles of farmers and soldiers in the country cannot be ruled out”, said Mr. Jagdanand Singh. Mr. Sudhakar Singh, though, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts over phone. It is said he [Mr. Sudhakar Singh] has sent his resignation letter to Deputy Chief Minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar accepted Mr. Singh’s resignation and sent it for Governor’s approval. Tourism Minister Kumar Sarvajit has been made new Agriculture Minister.

Earlier on Saturday, the Agriculture Minister had said he would not take rest until the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act and the ‘mandi’ system, which were scrapped in 2006, were restored. “The decision to scrap them was anti-farmer”, Mr. Sudhakar Singh said. “Someone needs to stand up for the farmers and the injustice being done to them. Scrapping the APMC Act has destroyed the farmers”, said his father Mr. Jagdanand Singh.

Mr. Sudhakar Singh, 46, has become Minister in the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) Cabinet for the first time and was elected as an MLA from Ramgarh in Kaimur district on the RJD ticket in the 2020 Assembly elections. “I’ll not allow the continuation of the BJP agenda in my department with the formation of the mahagathbandhan government in place in the State”, said Mr. Sudhakar Singh.

Controversial remarks

Mr. Singh, a Delhi University graduate, known for his straight talk and simplicity, recently hit headlines saying all his department officials were “thieves and thereby being head of the department he is head of the thieves ( choro ka sardar)”. He also hit out at the government saying, “despite three agricultural road maps on which the Bihar government in the last 17 years has spent crores of rupees, the total production of grain in the State in 2021-22 was 1.76 lakh tonnes while, in 2011-12 it was 1.77 lakh tonnes. Everything in my department needs to be overhauled”. Few days ago, while addressing a meeting in his constituency, Mr. Singh told people to “beat his department officials with shoes, if they demand for bribe”.

All these statements of the young Minister are said to have caused major embarrassment to the Nitish Kumar-led government and sources in the government told The Hindu “there was pressure on him to put in his papers”.

Meanwhile, the BJP took potshots at the government over the resignation of Mr. Singh. “In the last two months of formation of the mahagathbandhan government in the State, two Ministers have resigned from Nitish Kumar’s Cabinet and both of them from the RJD. Mr. Kumar has to bear many more insults”, said senior State BJP leader and MP Sushil Kumar Modi. BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said “a great Indian political comedy circus show is going on in Bihar in which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is a master comedian”.

While speaking to The Hindu recently, Mr. Sudhakar Singh said “the problem is that when you’re with the Opposition you keep raising people’s issues but once you become the part of the government you get disconnected with the same people and the issues”. “I’m not going to make it happen. I’ll keep raising grievances of the people of my constituency of farmers of the State, whether someone likes it or not”. “Being an Agriculture Minister of the State, can someone tell me why I should not flag issues of farmers’ grievances? And that too, when 80% of our State’s population is dependent on agriculture”, asked Mr. Singh. “Whatever direction I’ will get from my party chief I will follow. But, I cannot stop raising the issues of farmers being an Agriculture Minister”, he said emphatically.

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