28 May 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Babus pay no heed to ministers

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Babus pay no heed to ministers It’s the season of sequels in moviedom, and so it would seem in Bihar’s babudom. In an earlier column (Nitish’s babu trouble, DKB, April 1) I had noted how Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s preference for certain babus had rendered a large number of others “jobless”, creating an artificial resource crunch in the state, apart from a disgruntled bureaucracy. Well, the very same band of blue-eyed boys of the chief minister has now raised heckles in new quarters: the Bihar Cabinet, no less, where ministers are now complaining of high-handedness of the babus. The latest voice to join the litany of complaints is that of the state minister for environment and forests, Ramchandra Sahni, who vented his frustration with the tribesmen at a public function while releasing a report on the state of environment. The minister bluntly informed his audience that the babus in his ministry refused to carry out his orders. Interestingly, Environment Secretary, Shishir Sinha, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Bashir Ahmed Khan, and Chairman Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB), Parushuram Ram were sitting on the dais, squirming red-faced, as their “boss” ranted on about the “free hand” given by the CM to the babus. Earlier, the CMO had received similar complaints from the Water Resources and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ramashray Prasad Singh, of the CPI and Registration and Excise Minister Sudha Srivastava on babus ignoring ministerial fiats. It is reliably learnt now that Nitish Kumar has directed state chief secretary Ashok Kumar Choudhary to issue a circular to officials to “respect” and “behave” properly with their ministers. Not just ministers, over the months since Nitish Kumar has become CM, several MLAs belonging to the ruling Janata Dal (United) and BJP parties have raised this issue. Closer home, right in the heart of the nation’s Capital, the situation is no better. Recently, Chief Secretary Ramesh Narayanswami had to censure the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) commissioner A.K. Nigam on a plaint by urban development minister A.K. Walia who expressed his annoyance with the babu for not attend meetings convened by him. There is general agreement among the ministers of the Delhi government about the high-handedness of the babus in the capital. If ministers and legislators can’t get the babus to work, imagine the plight of the common man.

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