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Patna Diary

CM’s take on his technical skills

People are never tired of talking about the “engineering” skills of chief minister Nitish Kumar, but he never considers him a techie seriously.

At a review meeting of the energy department, he told a group of persons that the chairman-cum-managing director of Bihar State Power Holding Company Limited, P.K. Rai, was a proper engineer. “I was just a college-going engineer,” Nitish said. Nitish and Rai were batchmates at the same college in Patna. Rai had a successful stint in the railways before his present assignment. Rai, sources said, was serious about studies. Nitish, on the other hand, was inspired by the students’ movement led by late Jaiprakash Narayan. “It was a candid admission. Many college teachers-turned-politicians have not taken classes for years. Still they love to see the professor tag before their names,” said a JD(U) leader.

Questionable question

Social welfare minister Praveen Amanullah had a shock recently when an RJD MLA came to her office and pleaded the case of an officer of her department whom she had suspended. “The interesting thing was that the RJD MLA himself had raised the issue of irregularities committed by the officer in the Assembly. A probe was initiated against the officer on the basis of the assurance given by the minister to the MLA in the House. The stunned minister said loudly if the RJD MLA had struck a deal with the suspended officer,” said an employee of the department. Incidentally, the RJD MLA is not the first one to ask a “questionable question” in the Assembly. “There is more than one instance of legislators disappearing from the House while questions asked by them were taken up for discussions. The mistake the RJD LA made was that he remained inside the House when the question was put up,” said a legislator.

State railway minister wish

The RJD chief, Lalu Prasad, never fails to give himself a pat for his performance as the railway minister. In a public meeting held recently, he expressed concern over the present performance of the railways. He, however, claimed that the railways would be on the fast track again when he would manage it again. The turnaround of the railways during Lalu’s tenure was questioned by his successors, including Mamata Banerjee. The JD(U) leaders might not want Lalu to be the railway minister again, but they would love to see a Bihari in the post. “Three successive railway ministers were from Bihar. Several projects announced in their regime are still incomplete. If a Bihari politician becomes the railway minister and completes them, he will become the most popular leader in the state,” said a JD(U) MLA.

Dilemma of Congress

Expecting a split between the JD(U) and the BJP before the next Lok Sabha polls over the Narendra Modi issue, several state Congress leaders are debating over who they should tie up with - Nitish or Lalu - in Bihar. “An overwhelming number of them prefer Lalu and argue that the RJD’s base vote will ensure victory of many upper caste candidates of the Congress. The argument might not be based on the ground reality because the state leaders believe that Lalu would be willing to give the Congress at least 10 seats in the alliance, while Nitish might concede just four,” said a seasoned Congress leader, recalling that the party's alliance with the RJD snapped in 2009 because Lalu conceded only three seats.