Reduced to playing “second fiddle” to bureaucrats, Bihar minister Madan Sahni this week offered to resign from the cabinet, leading to much embarrassment for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar whom he is said to be close to.
In a statement on Thursday, social welfare minister Sahni said the state’s bureaucracy had “marginalised” ministers. “They just don’t listen. How can I work for the people who have been electing me if officials don’t listen to me? I’m not here for bungalow or car. I’m here to serve people,” Sahni, MLA from Bahadurpur, said.
The statement not only gave ammo to the opposition to target Nitish Kumar, but also found takers within the CM’s circle. Former CM and Hindustani Awam Morcha president Jitan Ram Manjhi, whose son is also in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, said he had raised similar concerns in the past as well.
Adding insult to injury, BJP MLA Gyanedra Singh Gyanu, who was miffed at not being made minister, alleged that ministers were part of “transfer posting syndicate” and took money to place officials at particular postings.
The saga has led to questions whether power in the state is centered around Nitish Kumar and his trusted officials, and the functioning of the bureaucracy in the state.
The outbursts from within don’t bode well for Nitish Kumar giving the impression that ministers and MLAs are unable to get work done for their constituents. And since the allegations come from within and not the opposition, the CM cannot brush them aside.
Quick to latch onto the rift, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said the Nitish Kumar government would collapse soon. “Giri hui sarkar ka girna tay hai (a corrupt government’s fall is imminent).”
The allegations have bolstered rumours that power is concentrated in the hands of a few chosen bureaucrats around Nitish Kumar. It has also rocked the alliance boat in the state. The CM may have been able to hold off opposition attacks but dealing with his detractors within promises to be an uphill battle.