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Patna Diary

Service over, eye career in politics

Retired police officer Sridhar Mandal gave chief minister Nitish Kumar a rose at the state hangar recently, triggering speculation over the former cop’s political ambitions. “It appears Mandal wants to join politics,” said a Dal leader. eople in political circles said several police officers jump into the poll ring after retirement. “We have a sitting MLA, who quit his job in the police to contest the 2010 Assembly polls. A few retired IPS officers contested on the Congress and the BJP tickets earlier also. The Jamshedpur MP, Ajay Kumar, happens to be a former city superintendent of police (before the bifurcation of Bihar),” said another JD(U) leader, insisting that Mandal was an active member in the Bihar Police Association. He was a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and was given key postings, including Patna Town DSP, during the tenure of both Lalu Prasad-Rabri Devi and Nitish Kumar. The Dal leader added: “He must have had something special, which enabled him to please both Lalu and Nitish and get key postings.”

Strong at home but weak away

The announcement of the LJP chief, Ram Vilas Paswan, to contest the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Assembly polls alone gave the state Congress leaders an opportunity to ridicule the strength of the JD(U) and the LJP outside Bihar. “There are two major alliances in Bihar - the BJP-JD(U) and the RJD-LJP. Both will be divorced in UP,” said a Congress leader. He did not forget to point out that alliances among the four parties outside Bihar have proved to be disastrous. “In the last UP polls (in 2007), the JD(U) contested with the BJP and ended up getting just one seat. In Jharkhand’s last Assembly polls (2009), the JD(U)’s tally was two. The LJP that fought the poll in alliance with the RJD, failed to secure even one,” he added. All the politicians in Bihar agree that the political clout of chief minister Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and Paswan in UP is same as that of Mulayam Singh Yadav in Bihar.

Painting out of favour

Mithila painting, the most recognised art form of Bihar, appears to be on its way out from the government calendars. An official recently rejected his subordinate’s suggestion to feature Mithila paintings in the 2012 calendar. He advised: “You come out with the same suggestion every year. Try thinking different this time.” The subordinate went back and thought differently. Sources said pictures of old manuscripts available at a library in the city would now feature in the calendar. “Thinking differently is fine. But Mithila paintings would have been more colourful. What Golghar is to Patna, Mithila painting is to Bihar,” said a painter.

Out to save time

Patna divisional commissioner K.P. Ramaiah used to hold his janata darbar inside his office. But of late he has started meeting people outside his office, where the complainants earlier waited to be called in. When reporters asked the commissioner the reason behind the change in venue, he said it was to save time. “Some complainants remain seated and simply efuse to leave even after their complaints are heard,”