Agartala, Feb 12 (IANS) Four years after he was forced to quit over his alleged links with a Bangladeshi arms dealer, Sahid Chowdhury was Sunday reinducted as a minister in Tripura’s Left Front government.
The main opposition Congress, which has been demanding a high level probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the reported links between Chowdhury and Bangladeshi arms dealer Mamun Mian, who has been in an Indian jail for four years, boycotted the swearing-in ceremony.
Tripura Governor D.Y. Patil administered the oath at the Raj Bhavan in presence of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, his cabinet colleagues and top civil and security officials.
Sarkar later told reporters that the minority affairs, sports and youth affairs departments have been allotted to Chowdhury.
Chowdhury, who held the food and minority affairs portfolios, had resigned in April 2008 following a controversy over his alleged links with Mamun Mian.
While Chowdhury’s alleged links with Mamun Mian have not yet been established, the chief judicial magistrate had sentenced the Bangladeshi to 10 years rigorous imprisonment in 2010 for forging his identity documents and fined him Rs.100,000. He will be jailed for another one-and-half-years if he doesn’t pay up.
Demands were raised from various quarters for Chowdhury’s induction in the 11-member council of ministers as there is no representation from the minority Muslim community.
“With the induction of Chowdhury, national security would be threatened as he has relations with a notorious foreign element,” opposition leader Ratan Lal Nath told reporters.
Rubbishing the Congress’ allegation, Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Bijon Dhar said : “Nowhere, including during the high court trial, was Chowdhury’s name mentioned. He had earlier, on his own, resigned from the ministry.”
“When allegations were made against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, union Home Minister P.Chidambaram and other central ministers, did they resign,” Dhar asked.
Chowdhury, 54, was elected in the Feb 2008 assembly election from the Boxanagar assembly constituency in west Tripura for the third time. He became cabinet minister for the first time in Mar 2008.