Jailed JD-U legislator still enjoys minister status

Vijay Kumar Shukla alias Munna Shukla, currently in jail, is chairman of the Bihar Vidhansabha Awas Samiti, a post accorded the status of a minister, an official in the state assembly said.

A local court had last year sentenced Shukla to life imprisonment in the sensational murder case of former Bihar minister Brij Bihari Prasad June 13, 1998.

"Munna Shukla may be in jail after being sentenced to life imprisonment but was not removed from the post that accorded him the status of a minister," the official said.

Another added that his chamber in the high security state assembly premises had been closed for months as he was behind bars.

Said Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) youth leader Gopal Prasad Sharma: "Munna Shukla is holding the post with the backing of (Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar, who is promoting and encouraging bahubalis (musclemen) to join him ahead of the coming state assembly in October-November this year."

According to former legislator P K Sinha, who was once considered close to Nitish Kumar, this was one instance of the chief minister's move to join hands with criminal-turned politicians.

Munna Shukla, a JD-U legislator from Lalganj in Vaishali district, was also sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007 in the case of the brutal murder of an IAS officer G. Krishnaiya in 1994. He was later acquitted by the Patna High Court.

Krishnaiya, a 1985 batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre, was shot at and then stoned by a mob near Muzaffarpur town on Dec 5, 1994 when he was on his way back from a meeting.

Brij Bihari, an accused in the engineering admissions scam investigated by CBI, was gunned down June 13, 1998, while he was strolling in the garden of Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, where he was admitted for treatment under judicial custody. His security guard Lakshmeshwar Sah was also killed.

Munna Shukla faces several criminal cases, including those related to murder, attempt to murder, extortion and abduction in various courts.

Nitish Kumar had said soon after taking over as chief minister in November 2005 that he would not include any tainted or criminal-turned legislators in his government.

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