The chief minister’s janata durbar is back but with a bit of a difference.
Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Monday tried to carry forward the legacy his predecessor Nitish Kumar left on January 13. But the difference in style of functioning of the two came out in the open in the public.
Unlike Nitish’s era when ministers concerned used to be present at the weekly durbar, very few ministers and officials greeted Manjhi when he entered the durbar hall.
Nitish held his janata durbar last time on January 13 after that it could not take place because of the Assembly session and the Lok Sabha elections. It was Nitish who started the practice of convening weekly janata durbar to listen to the grievances of the common man when he became chief minister in 2005.
Though Manjhi copied the style but the functioning was totally different. Nitish used to read the application carefully and then pass on to departments concerned. Manjhi mostly chose to listen to the grievances verbally.
The verbal practices resulted in creating confusion as well when the complainant used to visit the table of the ministers or the department secretaries. Many examples came into light on Monday when the complainants had to move from one table to another because their problems were not with the department concerned sent by Manjhi.
“This mistake never used to take place when in Nitishji’s janata durbar where he used to read the application carefully and then pass it on to the department concerned. My complaint was concerning the education department but the chief minister sent me to the table of art, culture and youth affairs department,” said Murari Mandal of Saran district.
Similarly, Nitish was in the habit of using intercom facility quite often during his janata durbar and used to give instructions to the ministers or secretaries concerned. However, Manjhi on Monday avoided dialling any number for instructions to ministers or secretaries.
Nitish also used to ensure the presence of ministers and departmental secretaries. However, two ministers — Shahid Ali Khan and Vinay Bihari — were not present on Monday but the departmental secretaries were present on their behalf.
On the other hand, ministers leaving the durbar hall without informing the chief minister never happened during Nitish’s time. Two years ago, Nitish had rebuked minister Bhim Singh who tried to leave the premises, even though he informed him.
But this Monday was different. Labour resources department minister Dulal Chand Goswami was the first to leave the premises at 11am followed by health department minister Ram Dhani Singh at 11.20am and education department minister Brishen Patel at 11.30am. Later, when Manjhi finished the durbar, Ram Dhani suddenly turned up during media briefing.
About the first janata durbar as chief minister, Manjhi said: “It was not the first janata durbar for me. Earlier also, I used to attend it but as chief minister it was my first. Things went quite okay on Monday. I did not find any change in the durbar and everything was perfect.”
However, in passing on the complainant’s applications, Manjhi was faster than Nitish. Manjhi started his weekly janata durbar at 10.28am and went through 571 applications in 2 hours and 12 minutes before he finished it at 12.40pm. Nitish used to take some five hours to clear about 600 applications.
Later, speaking to the reporters on the sidelines of his weekly janata durbar, Manjhi said he had sought time to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of granting special category status to Bihar and would visit Delhi after getting a response.