Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in different roles during his Seva Yatra which he began from the West Champaran district on November 9 ~ inspecting soil erosion caused by river Gandak, Lauriya sugar mill, a police station, block office, east Gandak canal, reviewing development schemes, meeting Mahadalit families, distributing land parchases among the landless, holding Junta Durbar, ordering prosecution of "corrupt" officials, laying foundation stones of the upcoming development projects, presiding over the meeting of local officials etc, all these during his some 80 hours stay in this northern Bihar's district...
Manoj Chaurasia / The Statesman
Patna: The montage could be straight out of a Bollywood blockbuster, not unlike the Hindi movie Nayak in which lead actor Anil Kapoor runs from place to place to fix all of a state's problems before his time runs out.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar appears to be playing a real-life hero during his Seva Yatra , his fifth such voyage in the past three years since January 2009, through the interior areas of the state, in a bid to see what is going on the ground and assess how his government is doing in its second term. The chief minister has already been criticised, though, for a failure to make surprise visits to unpredictable locations.
On the first day on his yatra which he began from notorious Yogapatti block in West Champaram district, once dubbed by the Britishers as a “University of criminals”, the chief minister inspected around a dozen places and his zeal continued even further. He kept on moving from one corner to another, sometimes using the chopper, at times his official car.
The people were bemused to find the bespectacled chief minister donning different roles at different places ~ sometimes a hard taskmaster, sometime a BDO, sometimes a police inspector and sometimes a tough administrator barking at his officials for their mistakes.
However, the yatra has apparently failed to get the desired response from the general masses this time as the chief minister again tried to tread the “oft-beaten” track, instead of paying “surprise visits” to the government offices or places of neglect as he had announced earlier.
The tastefully painted government buildings, such as Yogapatti block office and Yogapatti police station where the chief minister visited on the first day of his yatra with everything put in order, clearly indicated that the officials concerned had information about the visit of the chief minister in advance, thus giving them enough time to set their records straight and correct the wrongs, if any.
Although his yatra was expected to understand the people’s miseries and subsequently calm down the growing murmurings among them about the government’s shortcomings, the chief minister, on most of the time, was found just visiting the government offices and browsing through the officials files but only waving to the crowd which had gathered after hearing about Kumar’s possible visits.
"Hath hilave se ka hoyi? Pet bhar jayi? Ee saab drama ba (Just waving to the crowd will not serve any purposes. Can this give food to us hungry villagers? All this is drama)”, a poor woman villager was heard angrily telling a new channel when asked for her comment.
Such was the anger of the rural populace, reports said, that the chief minister had to ultimately pay a visit to the literally inaccessible “diyara area” (riverine areas) which faces the fury of mighty Gandak river all through the year, moving over the non-motorable roads.
"Sir, you are making inspection of the places as per your own choice but I request you to visit the diyara area to learn about the pathetic conditions we live in. No officials have gone there for years”, a local villager requested the chief minister on his tour to the Yogapatti areas.
Reports said the appeal of the villager moved the chief minister so much so that he instantly rushed to the areas as pointed out by him.
“What kind of surprise inspections are these? The officials have full knowledge of where the chief minister is headed for. This is sheer eye-wash aimed at befooling the poor, innocent masses”, remarked RJD’s principal spokesman Mr Ramkrial Yadav, a Rajya Sabha member.
Alleging that the “sarkari nautanki” is going at the cost of taxpayers’ money, he said around Rs 2 crore was being spent in very district in the name of this Seva Yatra.
Even his own colleagues are criticizing the chief minister’s Seva Yatra, terming it a mere hungama, ‘full of sound and fury signifying nothing’.
“This is the classic case of a chief minister himself patting his back without anything remarkable to show to the masses”, quipped rebel JD-U MP from Munger Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, a friend-turned-arch rival of Kumar.
The Congress too has criticised the chief minister for wasting crores of rupees in his quest for "branding" his government's image of "Sushasan" (good governance).