BJP minister threatens legal step against 'paternity' charge

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Ranchi, Aug 22: Jharkhand agriculture minister Satyanand Jha (Batul) allegedly threatened to file a defamation suit after the BJP, which is leading the coalition government in the state, asked him to clear charges that he was the father of a para-teacher from Jamtara called Soni Devi. The BJP MLA from Nala said he was being targetted by the opposition.

On Monday, Chief Minister Arjun Munda convened a meeting where Batul was asked to file a defamation suit on the issue if he really thought that he was innocent. The controversy came to prominence last year when Soni Devi claimed that she and Jha had got married in 1995 and that they have a six-year-old boy.

She demanded Batul's DNA test to establish her claim and accordingly, a legal notice was sent to the minister in June last year. The matter did not gain much publicity after Soni Devi withdrew her charges later but now, she has threatened to move the Supreme Court if the minister did not acknowledge their son's due rights.

State BJP President Dineshanand Goswami said the party did not ask for Jha's resignation and was looking into the matter. Party sources, however, said the minister could be asked to resign if the party found it in a bigger embarrassment.

Sources said a man named Santosh Chaudhary, who introduced himself as Soni Devi's brother, also submitted evidence to Dumka district police on the marriage between Soni Devi and Jha.

Batul slammed Soni Devi, saying it was a conspiracy. "Why the matter was not raised all these years and only after I became a minister?" he asked. Batul became a legislator in 2009 and later, a minister.

The Congress also demanded the minister's DNA test and burned his effigy in Dumka on Monday. It may be mentioned here that the Congress, too, faced a similar situation recently after one of its veteran leaders, ND Tiwari was found to be the biological father of a 32-year-old man, following the DNA test.

The Congress also sought Batul's resignation. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, an ally of the BJP in the state government, also demanded a probe into the case to ensure that the government's image did not get tainted.

OneIndia News

(With inputs from Anandabazar Patrika)

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