Bihar's Building Construction minister Ashok Chaudhary was given additional charge of the education department on Thursday evening when incumbent Mewalal Choudhary stepped down over corruption charges, three days after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his 14 ministers took oath.
Ashok Chaudhary, a Dalit leader, had joined the JD(U) in 2018 from the Congress. Earlier, he was part of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the jail minister in the Rabri Devi government.
A police case was filed against Mewalal Choudhury three years ago after allegations of involvement in irregularities in the appointment of faculty at the Bhagalpur agriculture university.
Pointing out the issue, the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal – which had alleged corruption local-level administration throughout the campaign for the recently concluded election -- alleged that Nitish Kumar's government was inducting corrupt leaders into the government.
Accusing the Chief Minister of "protecting criminals", RJD's Tejashwi Yadav had tweeted, "Power is protecting criminals... Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has granted exemption to loot and robbery by appointing Mewalal Chaudhary".
Denying any wrongdoing, Mr Choudhary had said, "There are cases against so many legislators". "The probe is ongoing. Nothing has happened," he had added.
After his resignation today, Sanjay Singh, the chief spokesman of Mr Kumar's Janata Dal United, said this is "yet another example of our leader Nitish Kumar's zero tolerance (for corruption).
A criminal case was filed against the JD(U) MLA from Tarapur back in 2017 after allegations that as the vice-chancellor of Bhagalpur agriculture university, he was involved in irregularities in the appointments to posts of assistant professor and junior scientists.
Mewalal Choudhary, the MLA from Tarapur, was suspended from the JD(U) in 2017 but was re-inducted later.