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Jharkhand government under pressure to drop minister

Ranchi, Aug 21 - The BJP-led Jharkhand government is under pressure from the opposition to drop its agriculture minister, Satyanand Jha Batul, after a woman claimed she was his wife and he the father of her son.

The BJP minister has denied the claims but the woman, Soni Devi, wants a DNA test done on him to prove the five-year-old boy's paternity.

The issue was discussed at a BJP meeting at Chief Minister Arjun Munda's residence Monday night. The party is standing by Batul.

"No resignation has been sought from the minister. We are looking into the issue," state BJP president Dineshanand Goswami said.

But BJP sources say the minister could be asked to submit his resignation since the party was finding itself in an embarrassing situation.

Soni Devi, a school teacher from Batul's assembly constituency Jamtara, first made the claims last year and demanded the status of a wife from the minister. However, the issue somehow cooled down.

A year later, the issue has heated up again, after Soni Devi appeared before the media and once more demanded wife's status from Batul. She also sought DNA tests of Batul and her son.

"Batul is father of my son. If there is any doubt, then DNAs of my son and the minister should be matched," she had told reporters.

However, another man, Bhupen Chaudhary, claimed that Soni Devi was his wife and the boy was his son.

Meanwhile, Batul Tuesday said it was a conspiracy.

"Why should I go for DNA test? This way, other woman too can also level similar allegations. Why was the woman silent for such a long time? Why was the issue raked up after I became minister," he told reporters here.

Soni Devi said the minister married her in 1996 and they had a son.

Batul became a legislator in 2009 and minister a year later.



-IANS


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