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Patna Diary

RJD chief in support of patis

When chief minister Nitish Kumar warned mukhiyapatis (husbands of village heads) and sarpanchpatis (husbands of panchayat heads) against interfering in their spouse’s official work, RJD chief Lalu Prasad lent them support and said the patis (husbands) were only helping their wives.

A few NDA leaders appeared to be amused over Lalu’s statement. “It is hardly surprising that Laluji came out in support of mukhiyapatis and sarpanchpatis. He has been a chief minister’s pati himself,” said a senior JD(U) leader, stressing that when Lalu made Rabri Devi the chief minister he ensured that she signed on the dotted lines. “Everyone knew that Rabri was a remote-controlled chief minister. Perhaps Laluji prefers wives to be remote-controlled by their husbands. That is his concept of women empowerment,” he added recalling that the elevation of Rabri as chief minister was flaunted by the RJD as a giant step towards the empowerment of women in Bihar.

‘Coolest’ politician

The heat wave in the capital compelled several residents switch on air-conditioners (ACs) at home. Politicians were no exceptions, as they preferred AC rooms to work in. But don-turned-JD(U) MLA Anant Singh took a step further. “While watching the performance of a Bhojpuri artiste at SK Memorial Hall, the AC in his SUV (sports utility vehicle) was on. The MLA’s aide said saheb prefers to sit inside his car only when it is cool. “The programme lasted around 150 minutes. Throughout this period, the vehicle’s AC was on,” said an onlooker. Chhotey Sarkar, as he is known in his constituency, is not known for his modesty and loves to flaunt his cars, clothes and animals.

Slip to prove costly?

Not long ago, IPS officer Alok Kumar was slapped a showcause notice for not making arrangements for a urinal at Gandhi Maidan for the chief minister during an inauguration of a public function. “Now that the cavalcade of the chief minister was stoned at Buxar, one wonders how many heads will roll,” said a senior police officer. He pointed out that before a chief minister’s visit, the district administration does some groundwork to liquidate unrest, if any. The officials are supposed to defuse the situation either by force or by providing assurances. But at Buxar, no such exercise was carried out.

Ducking the CM’s order

The chief minister’s order should be considered final in the state. But officials in Bihar appear to have learnt the trick of ignoring it. A letter from the rural department to district magistrates (DMs) pointed out that several DMs had not complied with the CM’s order to form teams to conduct ground-level social audits of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Act (MNREGA). A senior official recalled that most DMs and superintendents of police ignored his earlier diktat to spend a night in a week in any village. “If the directions given by the chief minister during his Seva Yatra are to be assessed as to how much work has been done, it would throw up shocking results,” said the official, stressing that it was time for the chief minister to crack the whip.