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MLAs, Sajal in punctuality row

Ranchi, June 24: Acting chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty and two MLAs of the ruling alliance had a heated exchange over meeting timings at Project Building this afternoon.

The drama started after 3.30pm when JMM legislators Aquil Akhtar (Pakur) and Paulus Surin (Torpa) told acting chief secretary he should start the meeting of 15-point programme implementation committee quickly as they had been waiting for a long time outside his chamber.

Chakraborty, on the other hand, was busy with another meeting with advocate-general R.S. Majumdar, law secretary B.V. Mangalmurti and officer on special duty (chief secretary’s cell) Puja Singhal.

Both sides traded charges. Akhtar said Chakraborty “misbehaved” with him. Chakraborty said Akhtar “shouted” at him.

Later, Chakraborty said the meeting was scheduled between 3pm and 4pm, but legislators arrived after 3.15pm. In the meantime, Chakraborty got engaged in “a matter related to high court”.

“Legislators and other panel members were waiting outside. Suddenly, MLA Aquil Akhtar started shouting at me. He has no right to trample on my fundamental dignity as a citizen. I requested him to calm down, but to no avail as other panel members instigated him,” Chakraborty told the media in the evening.

He added he would write to Speaker S.S. Bhokta (of the JMM) and if necessary, to governor Syed Ahmed and chief minister Hemant Soren.

“While MLAs and others were waiting, they were offered chilled water, juices and coffee,” he added, implying he had not stinted in hospitality.

However, MLAs were in no mood to be placated. Just outside his conference room after the media conference around 6.30 pm, Akhtar, Surin and a few others were hovering to tell chief minister Hemant the story of their “humiliation”.

“The CM should look into the matter seriously. Government officials should not misbehave with people’s representatives. Chief secretary sahib told us to get out from the chamber,” Akhtar said.

The Pakur MLA claimed the meeting was originally scheduled on June13 and had been postponed twice. “Officials are uninterested about welfare projects for minorities funded by the Centre.”