Patna: Bihar’s Food and Consumer Protection Minister Madan Sahni has courted controversy when he ignored social-distancing norms while honouring Jyoti Kumari, who cycled 1,200 km from Gurgaon to bring her injured father home in Darbhanga. Also Read - 'Will Sponsor Her Education in Any Stream': Lok Janshakti Party Offers to Sponsor Education of Bicycle Girl Jyoti Kumari

A video clip showing the minister exalting the 15-year-old girl in the presence of a large number of villagers standing in close proximity in gross violation of the social distancing norms has gone viral on social media. Also Read - Bicycle Girl Jyoti Kumari Wants to Appear for CFI Trials But Studies First Priority, Says Father

Sahni is a JD(U) MLA from Gaura Bauram assembly constituency in Darbhanga district. The opposition has slammed the minister for giving a go-by to the key social distancing requirement against coronavirus and demanded action against him.

The JD(U), however, refused to make any comment other than stating that the minister himself can speak on the issue. Repeated attempts to reach the minister for his comments did not fructify.

Sahni had on Monday gone to meet and honour Jyoti Kumari at her native village Sirhulli under Singhwara block of the district where the minister gave clothes and an envelop containing Rs 5,000 as gift, besides revering both the girl and her father — Mohan Paswan — by offering them shawl and garlands. While Sahni was honouring them, he was surrounded by a crowd.

Though the Darbhanga district administration officials are tight-lipped over the issue, the opposition RJD and Congress lapped it up and demanded action against the minister for violating social-distancing norm which the state government has been asking people to follow vigorously as protection against the virus.

Demanding action against Sahni, senior Bihar Congress leader and MLC Prem Chandra Mishra said, “The minister violated the norms of social-distancing framed and vigorously advocated by the state government.

Action has been taken against several persons for violating the norm. Following the same rule, action must be initiated against the minister.

“As a minister, it is his responsibility to follow the social distancing norm, but he indulged in cheap publicity for political gains. Its a serious matter and action must be taken against him.

“Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who talks about rule of law should clear his stand on the issue,” Mishra said.

Senior RJD leader and party legislator Bhai Virendra said action must be taken against the minister. He claimed the minister swung into action only after our leaders — Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav — lavished praise on the girl.

JD(U) spokesman Rajiv Ranjan refused to comment on the matter. It would be appropriate if he (minister) himself comment on the event, he said.

“You better ask the question to him (minister) as it does not relate to party matters. If Sahni has done something in his individual capacity, then it will be better to take his comment,” Ranjan said.

The girl is currently staying at a quarantine centre close to her Sirhulli village. She has caught the world’s attention after she bicycled her injured father 1,200 km to reach her native village from Gurugram more than a week ago.

Her indomitable feat drew praise from Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump.