Twentytwo of the 29 ministers in the newly-appointed Nitish Kumar cabinet in Bihar face criminal cases against them.

A report by election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), based on affidavits filed by candidates to the Election Commission of India (ECI), said 76% ministers face criminal cases.

This is three more than the previous ‘mahagathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) government of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (United) and the Congress, in which 19 of the 29 ministers (69%) were tainted.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had on July 26 distanced himself with the Grand Alliance, citing allegations of corruption against deputy chief minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav. The same evening he took the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to stay at the helm in the state. The new ministers were sworn in on July 29.

Of the 22 tainted ministers in the new cabinet, nine mentioned in their affidavits facing serious criminal cases against them. Two of Kumar’s party ministers even face attempt to murder charges under section 307 of the IPC against them. Many other ministers face cases of dacoity, theft, fraud and atrocities against them.

Interestingly, the average income of a minister in the new cabinet is Rs 2.46 crore, even as the percentage of crorepati ministers dropped marginally this time as compared to Kumar’s previous government. While 79% ministers — 22 — were crorepatis in the GA government, 21 (72%) are crorepatis in the JD(U)-led NDA government.

Labour resources minister and BJP MLA from Lakhisarai, Vijay Kumar Sinha, has properties worth Rs 15.50 crore, while urban development department minister and BJP MLA from Muzaffarpur Suresh Kumar has properties worth Rs 11 crore. Water resources and planning minister and JD(U) legislator from Munger, Rajiv Ranjan Singh, has properties worth Rs 5 crore.

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