Patna: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has accused Bihar Labor Minister Vijay Prakash of making extortion demand from the owner of Shrenuj Group, the company that owned the only diamond cutting and polishing unit in Bihar, forcing them to shut down their operation and leave the state for good.
"The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader made an unofficial visit to the factory located in Pataliputra Industrial Complex in Patna last September. There was no need for him to go there but he did and in October, the company wrapped its business and left Bihar for good. When the media contacted the officials in Mumbai, they were told that the minister demanded a huge sum in extortion money. They were also threatened of dire consequences if the extortion demands were not met. As a result, the company folded its Patna operation and left," Modi said.
When asked, the minister admitted visiting the diamond cutting and polishing factory last September but denied the extortion charge saying it was a lie being spread by the opposition leaders to malign his image.
"I did go to the factory in September to settle a labor dispute over non-payment of wages. A number of workers were fired without any reasonable cause and since most labors were from Bihar, I felt it was my duty to intervene and bring both parties to the bargaining table. I did not make any demand for money," the minister said.
It may be recalled that it was Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who, amidst much hype, had inaugurated the Rs. 600 crore factory in May 2013 in the presence of the then Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Labor Minister Janardan Singh Sigriwal, and Industry Minister Renu Kushwaha.
Kumar, who at the time had said that with the opening of the diamond processing factory in Bihar, he felt vindicated against those who were critical of him saying he could not even attract a needle factory in Bihar, is yet to weigh in on this latest scandal to hit his administration.