Three BJP lawmakers to return costly gifts to Bihar government

Patna, March 19 (IANS) Three legislators of the opposition BJP in Bihar on Saturday said they would return the costly gifts they accepted along with ruling legislators.

There has been a lot of criticism after the education department gifted microwave ovens to all legislators of both the assembly and legislative council, with the common people saying this comes at a time when thousands of teachers were awaiting payment of salaries since months.

Three CPI-ML legislators, however, refused to accept the gifts.

A day after BJP legislators accepted the gifts like microwave ovens, airbags and briefcases, former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Saturday said in a tweet: “Lakhs of school teachers are without salary for 4 months, Prem Kumar, Mangal Pandey and myself will return gifts like micro over back to government.”

Prem Kumar is Leader of Opposition in the assembly, while Mangal Pandey is the BJP state president. Modi and Pandey are members of the legislative council.

Without naming Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, Sushil Modi said the state government gave a “ridiculous justification” that the legislators were “poor” and will “use the microwave ovens to taste the mid-day meals”.

In fact, the legislators are being paid Rs.1.5 lakh per month, he said.

Education Minister Ashok Choudhary downplayed the issue, saying it was a small gift for the legislators.

“This is not the first time that legislators have been gifted during the budget session. There is nothing new in it,” he said.

He said the microwave ovens cost the education department Rs.11,125 each. “It’s just a matter of Rs.30 lakh.”

The animal husbandry department gifted trolley bags to all legislators, while the urban development department gave expensive watches.

Previously, other departments have also gifted costly items like mobile phones to legislators as a goodwill gesture.

The BJP has 53 legislators in the 243-member assembly. Its allies LJP, RLSP and HAM have five legislators.

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