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Straight speak

10 Questions

Shashank Shekhar Bhokta, Assembly Speaker of Jharkhand, on VVIP security and more

TT: Why did you raise concerns that protocol wasnít followed by police and administration during your visits outside Ranchi?

Bhokta: Frankly speaking, I donít face any major threat. But, it is a question of the dignity of the Speakerís chair. District SPs should give the Speaker extra security cover

What problems did you face?

Without a special police escort party familiar with the topography, we often lost our way in the hinterland

No major untoward incident has taken place.

I have crossed several rebel hotbeds. Should the police wake up only after I am killed?

How is the home department at fault?

No blame game here. I asked the home department to frame rules on my security entitlements. Now, I retained only two bodyguards given to me as an ordinary MLA and relieved the rest. (The state provides five guards to the Speaker and has also deployed two more at his residence)

But, all of them are still with you.

They are there at the directions of their department bosses

Did the Hazaribagh SP seek your permission before quizzing minister Jai Prakash Bhai Patel in the arms theft case?

No. Police need not seek the Speakerís permission before interrogating, detaining or arresting an MLA. But, they must inform the Speaker within 24 hours of a formal arrest

Most MLAs, especially those heading Assembly committees, complain senior officials donít heed repeated summons.

Not a single such complaint has been reported after I assumed the Speakerís charge

But, you are often heard saying that IAS and IPS officers are self-willed.

Thatís true. The Assembly Speaker has his own limitations

The Assemblyís winter session will be brief. You wanted longer sessions.

The span of Assembly session is decided by the council ministers at the cabinet meeting. After coming to power, people do the same things they condemned while in the Opposition

Your remedy?

I can increase the number of working hours to ensure all members get replies to their questions

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