PATNA: A BJP minister in Bihar on Sunday expressed indignation over a bulk of transfers and postings, which he had cleared, being put on hold by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who apparently took note of allegations of irregularities.
Transfers and postings of several officials of the revenue and land reforms department had been cleared late last month by Ram Surat Rai, the minister concerned, only to be vetoed by the CM’s office a few days later.
Allegations surfaced in a section of the press that some officials were given plum postings despite taints of corruption and many were transferred despite having served for less than three years at their current places of posting.
“I had cleared the transfers and postings exercising the powers vested in me as the minister. It is the chief minister’s prerogative to allow or reject these,” Rai told reporters with an air of dejection.
The minister denied allegations of tainted officials being favoured but admitted that many were granted transfers out of turn following requests they made themselves or through some MLA.
“We ministers are also public representatives. If some official approach us directly or sends a word through an MLA, requesting that he or she be given a posting in a district close to the place where his or her spouse is working, we have to act on such requests,” said Rai who has earned a reputation for outspokenness in the less than two years he has been a minister.
He said that he understood the “special privilege” the chief minister enjoys and has exercised but minced no words in describing the “thes” (hurt) he felt over being overruled.
When some journalists asked him, if, in the light of allegations of irregularities, he feared losing his ministerial post, Rai snapped saying “this chair is not somebody’s ancestral property. If the government thinks I do not deserve to continue, I wish it best of luck to find someone more worthy than I am”.
To a question whether he thought ministers belonging to the BJP felt “dabaav” (pressure) under the overbearing leadership of the chief minister, who belongs to JD(U), Rai said with a swagger, “People in BJP do not know how to buckle under pressure.”
However, he hastened to add “nobody in the government functions under any type of pressure. Even JD(U) ministers function freely”.
Meanwhile, the BJP for which the JD(U)’s adversarial stance over Agnipath has rung alarm bells, sought to distance itself from the matter involving the chief minister and his cabinet colleague.
“The party believes the issue will be amicably resolved once the chief minister has a word with Ram Surat Rai,” BJP spokesperson Arvind Kumar Singh said in a statement.
Although a section of BJP leaders in Bihar gloat over the fact that it has more numbers in the assembly than the JD(U), and that it also rules the Centre, many seem averse to annoying Kumar, the de facto leader of the JD(U) which is currently the NDA’s second-largest ally.
The party has, notably, maintained a telling silence over the JD(U)’s recent belligerence towards “BJP sympathisers” like former spokesman Ajay Alok, who has been expelled, and former national president RCP Singh who lost his berth in Union cabinet upon denial of another term in Rajya Sabha.