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When it rains, excuses pour

- Govt blames waterlogging for failure to honour Shreyasi

Patna, Aug. 18: It’s the rains, stupid.

Just why the government couldn’t felicitate Bihar’s Commonwealth silver medallist Shreyasi Singh is now being explained by the rain god’s decision to open up the skies.

Vinay Bihari, the minister who holds the important sounding portfolios of art, culture and youth affairs, today said his inability to participate in a meeting to discuss the issue with chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on August 14 was owing to the rains. So, the government was unable to decide the modalities for honouring Shreyasi.

Bihari’s latest explanation comes a day after he said he was too busy campaigning for the upcoming Assembly byelections scheduled on August 21. He had also said that he was not able to congratulate the medallist as he didn’t have her contact number.

Shreyasi, 22, the daughter of former Union minister Digvijay Singh, won the silver medal in the women’s double trap shooting event at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games on July 27. The government didn’t bother to even send her a congratulatory message, leave alone organise any official felicitation. A day after Shreyasi won the medal, minister Bihari had told this newspaper that the government would honour Shreyasi.

“There was a meeting which was scheduled with the chief minister on August 14. I had written a letter to the CM a week ago informing him that we should honour Shreyasi for her achievement as she was a Bihar girl. In the meeting slated on August 14, we had to decide on the way she should be honoured. However, heavy rain lashed the capital that day and my residence and the locality in which I stay faced a serious waterlogging problem. I could not get out of my residence and go to the CM’s house for the meeting. However, we will definitely honour her as it is a proud moment for Bihar. We would have done it by now had the rain not lashed the city suddenly,” the minister told The Telegraph today.

Bihari’s official residence is located in Punaichak, which is hardly 1.5km from the chief minister’s residence at 1 Aney Marg. Being a minister, Bihari is entitled to two chauffeur-driven four-wheelers, one of which is an SUV.

A resident of Punaichak said while there was waterlogging in the area on August 14, it wasn’t so severe that cars or SUVs couldn’t ply.

“A car could have passed through the area quite easily. There was heavy rainfall but the waterlogging problem here isn’t that acute,” the resident said but didn’t wish to be named for fear of upsetting the minister.

On the defensive today, Bihari said the government would put together a felicitation plan latest by August 20.

“The campaigning for the by-elections will end by August 19. The very next day, we will decide on a date when she (Shreyasi) can be honoured in a special way. We have honoured athletes of other states earlier. When shooter Abhinav Bindra won a gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the state government presented him with a cash reward of Rs 11 lakh. Weightlifter Malleshwari was given a cash award of Rs 11 lakh by Bihar in 2000. Shreyasi is a Bihar girl and there will definitely be a cash reward for her too,” the minister said.


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