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BJP wants CM’s answers in session

The Assembly stares at a stormy winter session ahead with the opposition BJP not ready to accept answers from other ministers to queries directed at departments the chief minister holds.

The winter session of the Assembly starts from December 6. Chief minister Nitish Kumar, after the break-up with the BJP, handles 18 departments, including key ones like health, finance, home and construction.

Talking to reporters, leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav, said: “As chief minister Nitish Kumar is holding 18 key departments, he should be ready to give answers to queries on departments he is holding, as we will not accept answers from other ministers who try to answer on his behalf.”

However, JD(U) president Bashishtha Narayan Singh said the government functions in a collective way and there is nothing wrong if other ministers reply for the chief minister in the Assembly.

He said: “In the Assembly, the minister’s reply is not his individual one, but that of the government .”

Sources said if the BJP, with 91 MLAs in the Assembly, sticks to its stand it would give chief minister Nitish Kumar a tough time as the Opposition plans to corner the government on the terrorist attack in Patna, Naxalite violence and deterioration of law and order.

Yadav said: “After breaking up with the BJP, the state government softened its stand towards terrorists and Naxalites. This is a serious issue.”

Demanding an extension of the winter session, scheduled from December 6 to 13, he dared the chief minister to expand his ministry. Yadav said: “It the government is seriously willing to answer queries, Nitish Kumar should first expand his cabinet or give additional charge to other ministers from the numerous departments he is holding.”

The former road construction minister claimed that ministers speaking on behalf of other ministers don’t have much information about the departments concerned. They merely read out answers prepared by department officials.

The Assembly session would see a direct war of words between the JD(U) and the BJP leadership after the October 27 Patna blasts.

While the Opposition will try to corner the government on security lapses, which, according to them, amounts to criminal negligence, the JD(U) leadership will counter the attacks by claiming that there were no security lapses. Also the BJP will try to corner the government on increasing Naxalite violence. In the second attack in less than a week, seven policemen, including the in-charge of Tandwa police were killed in a landmine blast triggered by Naxalites at Nabinagar in Aurangabad district on Tuesday. BJP spokesperson Vinod Narayan Jha said, instead of taking action against the Maoists, the government was coming up with a surrender policy for rebels.

The Opposition will also try to attack the state government on utilisation of funds meant for drought as the state government has till now spent only Rs 147 crore against the Rs 769 crore sanctioned for drought relief, failure of the government to provide 8-hour power supply in rural areas and non-payment of salaries to unaided teachers.

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