Bihar minister Awadhesh Kushwaha quits over ‘bribery’ video

JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav told reporters that Kushwaha's resignation has been received and forwarded to the Governor for acceptance.

Bihar’s Excise Minister Awadhesh Kushwaha resigned on Sunday after he was caught on camera while allegedly accepting Rs 4 lakh from individuals posing as “businessmen from Mumbai.”

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked the minister to resign after two videos showing the minister accepting money were uploaded on YouTube on Saturday. The JD(U) also withdrew Kushwaha’s candidature for Bihar polls from Pipra. “We have a zero tolerance policy on corruption. However, it would be apt to point out now that the BJP did not do the same for its former president Bangaru Laxman,” said JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi.

Kushwaha has denied the allegations and said he would file a defamation suit against those who conducted the sting operation. RJD is yet to respond to the second video, which features at least two of its candidates and an alleged relative of a third.

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The videos were uploaded to a YouTube channel named Jaihind Bihar, registered only on Saturday. The channel claims that its “investigative team, X-File” conducted the sting. The two videos in question are the only ones uploaded to the channel.

In the video, the narrator claims that they met Kushwaha on the pretext of being “nakali” businessmen and paid money so that he would help them once his party forms the government. At one point, an individual off the camera hands Kushwaha the notes, saying, “Poora chaar lakh hai.” Kushwaha is seen bolting the door before making a phone call. His face is not clearly visible, but he is heard saying: “Arre ek bombay ka party hai. Woh kam kuch ho raha hai…unka kehna hai ki ‘do-chaar-paanch rupaiya ek manasikta ke hai. Ab aap logon ko chunaav me madad karenge. Aanewalon dinon me hamara company ko aap sahajog kijiyena.”

He is then seen as saying that he has to spend Rs 1.5-2 crore for his campaign.

The second video features former Bihar health minister Mudrika Singh Yadav and Subedar Das, both RJD candidates, Yadav is contesting from Jehanabad while Das is the party’s Makhdumpur candidate. Nitesh, an individual introduced as brother of RJD’s Ghosi candidate Krishna Nandan Verma also features in the video.

Das is seen taking currency from an unseen individual and wrapping it in a towel. The narrator claims that it’s Rs 2 lakh. Nitesh is given money, with the narrator claiming that it is Rs 1 lakh.

(With inputs from Santosh Singh)