| Chief minister Nitish Kumar listens to grievances of people at his weekly janata durbar on Monday. Pictures by Deepak Kumar |
Promising to take the corruption cases slapped on public servants in the past four years to its logical conclusion, chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said he would review the status of his government’s “war on corruption” at a high-level meeting on Wednesday.
“I have called a meeting of all the secretaries, police top brass, district magistrates and superintendents of police concerned on January 15 to review the status of departmental and legal actions taken against the officials caught under the charges of bribery and other corrupt practices. I have updated myself on the status of the cases related to officials caught red-handed while accepting bribe in meetings with the chief secretary, principal secretary (home) and director-general of police,” Nitish told reporters at his weekly janata durbar.
“I had made three broad promises to the people in 2010 — confiscating the property of corrupt officials, ensuring better living to BPL families and improving the power scenario. I am busy working and fulfilling what I had promised to the people,” he said.
Without naming others, Nitish said: “We were the first to start the campaign against corruption. We brought special court act, confiscated assets of corrupt public servants and started schools in them, and set up fast track courts to dispose of cases within a stipulated time.”
He pointed out that his government strengthened the economic offences wing and made it mandatory for all the public servants, legislators and ministers to declare their assets. “We have terminated the services of several officials caught accepting bribe. Schools have been opened on the illegal property of officials confiscated in the past,” he said.
Contrary to his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to scrap his janata durbar in the wake of the chaos on Saturday, Nitish said he would continue with the durbar as along as he could. Replying to a query related to Kejriwal’s decision, Nitish said: “I shall not be able to pardon myself if I stop it (durbar). The programme has been continuing for the past eight years in which it has undergone several modifications. Several researchers from India and abroad have studied it. I cannot think of scrapping the programme that has evolved over the years.”
Explaining the idea behind what he officially described as the Janata ke Durbar mein Mukhyamantri programme, Nitish said: “It (janata durbar) underwent many modifications and fine tuning. Now, it is thoroughly systematic and has evolved into a genuine platform for the people to communicate with the chief minister about their grievances. I enjoy immensely listening to the people and solving their problems.”
Asked about the occasional chaos, sloganeering and disturbances at his durbar, Nitish said: “It is thoroughly transparent and open to the media. I don’t get disturbed at all at the people sitting on dharna or raising their voice on certain issues. The people are well within their rights to raise their voice before the leader they have elected. I neither discourage nor gag the people’s voice.”
Asked about his suggestion to Kejriwal on the issue, Nitish said: “I am not a kind of a person to give unilateral suggestion to anyone.”
Refusing to criticise Kejriwal, he said: “Every chief minister has the right to run the things the way he/she wished. He (Arvind) has just got the opportunity to run the government. It is not appropriate to review what he does on daily basis. He should be given time to adjust to the situation.”
Nitish refused to comment on LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan’s reported suggestion to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi that he (Paswan) had no objection if the Congress took JD(U) as the third party in the secular alliance in Bihar, Nitish refused to be drawn into it. “Raaz ko raaz hi rahne dein (Let the secret be a secret).”
The state JD(U) chief, Vashishtha Narayan Singh, however, said: “Given the composition and tradition the JD(U) follows, it is not easy for our party to strike a tie-up with the Congress.”