Patna: In the eye of the storm over the controversial appointment of his son-in-law as his Personal Assistant (PA), Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Thursday said he was not aware of the rules and blamed the Cabinet department for not telling him about it before issuing the notification.
"I was not aware of the rules not to appoint close relatives as staff in the CM office. It was the duty of state Cabinet Secretariat to see (about law prohibiting such appointments)," Manjhi told reporters here.
"The Cabinet department which issued the notification of the appointments did not tell me about the existing rules," he said on appointment of his son-in-law Devendra Kumar as his PA.
"As soon as the matter came to my knowledge, I removed my son-in-law," Manjhi said.
Manjhi's son-in-law Devendra Kumar put in his papers late last night after the appointment kicked controversy.
About the appointment of his relative Satyendra Kumar, who has been appointed as peon through the same June 4, 2014 notification, Manjhi said he was his nephew and the matter did not come in the definition of close relatives in the existing law.
"Close relative means son, daughter and their spouse and not nephew. If you say he hails from the same caste as I am, then my every caste men will somewhere or other come as my relatives," he said.
Responding to his critics on the appointments, Manjhi said" "Hame gaali dene wale apni patni ko jaali certificate ke aadhar par college professor banaye hua hai (those abusing me has helped his wife become a college professor on the basis of a fake certificate)."
Appointments of close relatives violate a state Cabinet Secretariat department order of May 23, 2000 which prohibits ministers to appoint a relative as PA.
If such appointments have been made it should be quashed immediately, the notification bearing signature of the then Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat Girish Shankar says.
Manjhi's son-in-law said that he had served as Manjhi's PA since the latter became Bihar's Social Welfare Minister in 2006 under Nitish Kumar's chief ministership.
Meanwhile, senior state Minister and a veteran dalit leader Ramai Ram has criticised the appointment and sought recovery of money from the officials responsible for making the appointment.
"Rules have been violated. The son-in-law himself is saying that he had worked as PA since Manjhi days as a minister under Nitish Kumar...Its astonishing how it happened," Ram, who is Transport minister in Manjhi cabinet, told a news agency.
Ram, eight term MLA from Bochaha in Muzaffarpur district, said the money paid to the son-in-law should be recovered from the officials of the Cabinet department which issued notification in gross violation of a 2000 rule.
Plunging into the controversy, RJD MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav said, "It seems some insiders within JD(U) in nexus with BJP are kicking such rows to weaken the alliance of secular parties."
Yadav's comment drew sharp criticism from JD(U) spokesman Neeraj Kumar who described it as an "interference" in the internal matter of another party.