The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Red letter day sparks debate

Patna, May 6: Up in arms against the “system”, the Maoists are hardly known for being effusive in praise.

But Bihar health minister Chandramohan Rai seems to have broken ground with an exception of sorts after he received an inland letter from a Maoists zonal commander praising him for “streamlining” health services in the state.

The letter has triggered a spiralling controversy among the political circles with the RJD alleging that the minister is “hand-in-gloves” with the rebels.

In fact, the minister himself is not sure about the letter. “So far, we have no evidence to say that the letter has actually been written by the rebels. Anyone including our political rivals can manufacture such a letter to malign us,” Rai told The Telegraph.

The letter, which was received by Rai’s office on April 27, has been written in red ink — a signature style of the outlawed outfit. It has thanked the minister for doing “good work” in the health sector.

However, typical to the Maoist style, the letter also warns the minister of “consequences” if he failed to continue the good work.

Incidentally, Rai represents West Champaran’s Ram Nagar constituency bordering Nepal, which is emerging as a bastion for the rebels.

However, state RJD chief Abdul Bari Sidiqui, having received sufficient fodder for a political spat, said: “The letter somehow shows that the minister is hand-in-gloves with the rebels. Why should the government depend on the outlaws to praise its work'”

Home secretary, Afzal Amanullah, though, refuses to buy the letter on its face value. “We are examining it and can’t say at this stage if it has actually been written by a Maoist.”

The letter, according to Rai, has warned the government against “anti people policies”. It has also asked the government to regularise the services of doctors on contract and pay them well so that they can serve the poor.

Moreover, it has suggested special allowances for the success of the national pulse polio programme in the rural areas.

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