| Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi at the Assembly on Monday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, July 14: An yearly report distributed in the Assembly with Nitish Kumar’s picture as the chief minister today gave the BJP a fresh chance to hit back at the government.
The labour resources department distributed the report soon after which members of the treasury bench went red in the face. Instead of chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, the report had his predecessor Nitish’s picture.
The budgetary demand of the urban development department was debated upon in the Assembly. While minister Samrat Choudhary defended his department, the BJP bench staged a walk out. The demand of over Rs 2,420 crore for the financial year 2014-15 was, however, passed.
However, before any of this, the budgetary demands of the labour resources department and building construction department were guillotined with the urban development department’s. In this, demands of other departments are tagged along and not debated upon. The labour resource department although distributed its annual report to the legislators.
That’s when controversy broke loose.
Leader of the Opposition Nand Kishore Yadav raised the matter. He alleged it was a deliberate move to have Nitish’s picture as the chief minister and lower the prestige of Manjhi. He said: “Such a report which humiliates the present chief minister should not have been distributed in the House.” The treasury bench remained tight-lipped.
Every department presents its annual report with the photograph of the chief minister and the department minister. The report gives an account of the department’s achievements in the last financial year and the target set for the current year.
The report distributed today did not even have the photograph of minister Dulal Chand Goswami. It has a foreword in the name of Nitish too.
Even as JDU ministers and MLAs conceded the “goof-up”, sources said the report was published around April when Nitish was still the chief minister and held the portfolios earlier with the BJP. To cut down on costs, the report was not republished.
A JDU MLA said: “The BJP has always been taunting Manjhi as a ‘remote-controlled chief minister’, a stop-gap arrangement. The report distributed gives the BJP an opportunity to hammer home their point.”
The labour resource department report was not the only sore point for the JDU today.
Education minister Brishen Patel also found himself in a tight corner over the distribution of free books to children in government schools. In a call attention by the BJP’s Vikram Kuer, the matter was raised. Kuer said free textbooks given to students of classes I to VIII are yet to reach their destination despite the fact that the new academic session starts in April.
Patel said the books could not be distributed because the government had introduced a two-month crash course of general knowledge and mathematics for the students.
“The actual session of the students started from June 20 after the summer vacations,” he said.
The minister claimed 60 per cent of the free books have been dispatched to the students. “We will dispatch the rest by July 31,” he stressed.