A Bihar minister's comments on the death of armymen hailing from the state at the LoC in Poonch sparked off protests by opposition who today demanded his immediate removal.
Bihar Rural Works and Panchayati Raj Minister Bhim Singh said "People join army or police for sahadat (martyrdom)," to questions by journalists about the absence of JD(U) ministers to receive the bodies of the four jawans flown in by special Air Force plane late last night at the Jai Prakash Narayan airport.
He then turned his ire on the media and attacked it, saying, "You had gone to the airport as part of your duty for which you are paid."
He even told a newsman of a private TV channel "Had your father gone to the airport to receive the bodies?... You had gone there as part of your duty for which you are paid."
As soon as his comments were aired on TV an angry opposition demanded his immediate sacking.
RJD secretary general Ramkripal Yadav (MP) demanded that Singh be removed immediately, while BJP deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravishankar Prasad asked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to apologise to the people over the 'insulting' remarks of the minister and upbraid him.
BJP leader and former Bihar minister Ashwani Choubey assailed Bhim Singh for his "insulting" comments.
Bihar Congress media in-charge Prem Chand Mishra castigated the minister for the comments and asked the CM to "keep such a minister under check".
When contacted, Singh told PTI "I am sorry not once but 100 times for the comments."
Singh, however, claimed that his comments had been 'twisted'.
"But since the remark has hurt the feeling of the people I apologise for the comments."
The minister said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is in Delhi, had rung him to express his 'displeasure' over his comments on jawans.
Kumar is expected to return late this evening.
This is not the first time that Singh, who had crossed to JD(U) from RJD on the eve of the 2010 assembly polls, has courted controversy. Last year he had demanded that NDA declare Nitish Kumar as the coalition prime minister for 2014. He had been upbraided by Kumar then only he publicly apologised and withdrew his remark.
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