Hum choron ke sardar hain, says Bihar minister, takes veiled swipe at Nitish

Hum choron ke sardar hain, says Bihar minister, takes veiled swipe at Nitish

IN MORE embarrassment for the Nitish Kumar government from its ministers, Bihar Agriculture Minister Sudhakar Singh has flagged corruption in lower bureaucracy, saying: “There is not anyone in my department who does not engage in corrupt practices… Aur hum choron ke sardar hain (And we are the head of chiefs).”

The son of RJD state president Jagdanand Singh, Sudhakar was speaking at Chand in Kaimur on Sunday at a felicitation function for him on becoming minister.

In a barely veiled attack on the CM, Sudhakar added: “I have been asking the government to engage multiple agencies to buy paddy, but there is no reaction. I am not talking about bureaucrats but about big politicians. When I talked about setting up mandis to buy grains from farmers, it was not considered either… Aese laga jaise samnewale ko bukhar ho gaya ho (It seemed the person in front of me had caught a fever).”

In an important aside, Sudhakar said: “It is not fully our government. We are in a coalition.” Adding that little had changed by way of governance even after the formation of the Grand Alliance Ministry, he said. “It is the same old government. Iske chal-chalan bhi purane hain (Its ways of functioning are also the same).”

Sudhakar remarks followed complaints at the event by several farmers about corruption. The Agriculture Minister said he had been raising issues concerning the public, and targeted the bureaucracy for their poor response. “Officials watch which way politics is turning and decide their allegiance accordingly.”

Sudhakar suggested that farmers keep burning effigies of the government as a reminder of their anger. “There are others above me. When I speak at Cabinet meetings (about this), they think it is my problem. When will you raise your voice? It will be heard,” he said.

Asked about his remarks, Sudhkar told The Indian Express: “I was reacting to problems raised by farmers, who spoke about corruption at every level, right from dakhil kharij (mutation of land) to sale of subsidised fertilisers to them.”

On whether there was lack of coordination between the RJD and JD(U), he said: “The RJD knows about the concerns I have been raising. As an MLA and minister, I have to respond to my people.”

The JD(U) refused to comment on the minister’s remarks.

Sudhakar said RJD leader and Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav had also taken up the issue of corruption in the lower bureaucracy.

Sudhakar is a first-time MLA from Ramgarh seat, which was once held by father Jagdanand Singh, a close aide of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, going back three-and-a-half decades.

Sudhakar had rebelled against his father to contest from Ramgarh in the 2010 Assembly polls. Jagdanand Singh, then the RJD MP from Buxar, had made the polls a prestige issue and proved his point by ensuring the win of a little-known leader against him.

Soon after becoming a minister now, Sudhakar had run into controversy when a 2013 case against him for allegedly not returning several crores of rupees he owed to the government.