PATNA: Breaking his silence on Bihar’s topper scam a week after it unfolded, chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday praised the state’s beleaguered examination board for conducting cheating-free exams and said suitable action was being taken against the fake topper and his facilitators.
Kumar also indicated that there would be no punitive action against Anand Kishore, chairman of Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB), despite demands by the ruling ally RJD and the main Opposition BJP. Kishore, a 1996-batch IAS officer who was given charge of BSEB last year after a similar topper’s scam, is considered close to the chief minister.
It had already become clear that Kumar plans no action against education minister Ashok Chaudhary, under whom Bihar saw two scams involving toppers of Intermediate examinations in 2016 and 2017. Chaudhary is president of the state Congress. “Steps taken to eliminate the menace of rampant cheating in examinations and foolproof evaluation have worked well. This is evident in the low pass percentage this year. Episodes like fake topper cannot be completely ruled out, but steps are being taken,” said the CM to journalists after his ‘janata ka durbar’ programme.
Kumar said his government has taken the issue of 42-year-old Ganesh Kumar emerging as the state topper in Plus II Arts stream as a “challenge to conduct exams in the future more effectively”. He said suitable follow-up action had been taken, namely the arrest of Ganesh Kumar and three other people.
“We have miles to go to plug all the loopholes and conduct the examinations in a free and fair manner. We do not believe in casting a veil on the shortcomings,” said Kumar in an apparent reference to criticism by BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on the issue.
Patna police on Monday took Ganesh Kumar on a day’s remand from jail for questioning. He is charged with wilfully changing his real date of birth – November 7, 1975, to June 2, 1993 – in his application forms to gain advantages in education and government jobs. Dev Kumari, principal of the school in Samastipur district from where he had passed Class 10 examinations in 2015, her husband Ram Kumar Choudhary and former secretary of the school, Gautam Kumar, were arrested on Sunday.