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System that stifles & suffocates
Parveen firm on exit, attacks govt on graft

Patna, Feb. 5: Parveen Amanullah today lashed out at the Nitish Kumar government, saying corruption was rampant and there was no regard for transparency or accountability in the existing system.

Amanullah, who resigned yesterday as social welfare minister and also as a JD(U) member, met Nitish today at his 1 Aney Marg residence after the chief minister returned from the Bodh Mahotsava in Bodhgaya. But the one-to-one discussion, which lasted over 80 minutes, yielded little with Amanullah sticking to her decision.

Amanullah described the meeting as “cordial”, but was more direct and strident in her attack against Nitish’s administration. “There is rampant corruption prevailing in the system. There is neither transparency nor accountability in the governance apparatus. There is no one to listen to the common people. It is hard for me to continue any longer in the existing scenario,” Amanullah told The Telegraph.

Nitish confirmed that he had received Amanullah’s resignation.

“In course of our conversation, it did not appear to be me that Parveen Amanullah would not reconsider her decision to resign. However, I heard on TV that she was speaking in a language different to the one during her conversation with me. I then phoned her inquiring if her decision to resign was final to which she said yes. Thus, I have adopted the process to send her resignation to the governor,” the chief minister said.

Amanullah’s exit has fuelled unrest in the government, which depends on outside support to survive, with a section of ministers venting their grudge against the CM’s “proclivity” to disallow independence to his cabinet colleagues. “Like Parveeen, we too feel suffocated for the CM controls the departments through the secretaries who invariably bypass us,” said a minister on condition of anonymity.

Amanullah though remained tight-lipped on her future plans. Speculation is doing the rounds that she could be headed for the Aam Aadmi Party.

Her resignation is also a blow to the very idea on which Nitish has built his politics and governance.

Amanullah is the daughter of Babri Masjid crusader and former IFS officer Syed Shahabuddin. Her husband is senior IAS officer Afzal Amanullah, who had played a key role in plotting the arrest of LK Advani during the BJP patriarch’s Rathyatra to Ayodhya in 1990. By bringing Parveen Amanullah into his fold, Nitish had succeeded in driving home the message about his commitment to secularism at a time when he was in alliance with the BJP.

“Ironically, Parveen has quit Nitish when the latter has dumped the BJP and is engaged in wooing the minorities in a bigger way in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. By deserting Nitish, Parveen has virtually questioned the very foundation which Nitish has constructed his house upon,” said a senior JD(U) leader.

Apart from building an image of a diehard secularist, Nitish also describes himself as a man of “zero tolerance” towards corruption. But Amanullah has hit Nitish where it hurts hard. If she sounded soft on Nitish yesterday, today she made no bones about where her “frustrations” lay.

Insiders revealed that her resignation looked sudden but it was the result of her growing “anguish” over the months. They described her resignation as a result of multiple factors — mainly Nitish’s failure to rein in a party MLA who had forcibly encroached on public land to set up a parking lot for a hotel in Pataliputra Colony where Amanullah lives. As a minister, she had launched a campaign against the MLA’s “high handedness” but failed to stop him from having his way eventually in February last year.

Amanullah is also learnt to have complained to the chief minister repeatedly about how files related to her social welfare department cleared by her were getting “stuck” in his office — dominated by a “coterie” of officials allegedly “hostile” to her.