| Nitish Kumar holds a party workers’ meet at his Patna residence on Monday. Telegraph picture |
Patna, Aug. 26: Chief minister Nitish Kumar today laid out three delectable promises on a platter to infuse fresh energy into his cadres’ sagging morale and set them up for the 2014 general elections.
Assurance to accommodate the cadres in the ruling establishment, liberty to use the chief minister’s area development scheme (CMDS) fund worth Rs 7.5 lakh without publishing tenders and sumptuous food made up Nitish’s offer.
The chief minister is under pressure, particularly after the break-up of the alliance with the BJP, with the latter firing on all cylinders on him like a “jilted lover”. What had also hamstrung Nitish was the latent discontentment among his cadres against their “neglect” in the system of governance and “lack of scope” to earn enough to survive.
The chief minister had annulled the legislators’ fund worth Rs 1 crore per annum in 2010, replacing it with CMDS. The measure had caused heartburn among the legislators and their supporters because it robbed them of the financial muscle. Moreover, the government had kept the revival of the 20-point programme committees pending for years.
In what the observers described as Nitish embarking on a correction course after dumping the BJP, the chief minister recently introduced a change in the CMDS, empowering local authorities, including the legislators to utilise funds worth Rs 7.5 lakh in their respective jurisdiction, without publishing tenders.
Sources said Nitish today assured the cadres that the government was in the process of reviving the 20-point programme implementation committees from the block- to the state-level. Large numbers of the ruling party cadres are likely to get accommodated in the ubiquitous committees that are primarily meant to monitor the poverty alleviation programmes but its members command reasonable clout with local bureaucracy.
An otherwise reserved Nitish shaded his usual shyness to get cosy with the cadres. The chief minister spent four hours with the cadres interacting with them and sharing a feast of basmati rice, potato-cauliflower-peas-tomato sabzi and chicken with rasgullas for dessert.
Nitish’s warm hospitality had its impact on the cadres. “They were complaining less today. They looked happy and also shouted in chorus ‘Nitish Kumar zindabad’,” said a party functionary.
It was not that the meeting was totally free from complaints. “Some workers demanded the chief minister rein in the bureaucracy,” said the functionary, adding: “By and large the atmosphere was congenial. The CM assured them to address their issues.”
Workers and legislators from Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Patna, Darbhanga, Araria, Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnea, Saharsa and Madhepura attended the meet in the presence of all JD(U) ministers and state party chiefs and MP Bashishtha Narayan Singh.
Nitish warned the cadres about the BJP trying to communalise the atmosphere after the break-up of alliance.