Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Damodarpur suffers yet another annual fire incident amid govt callousness

The Fire raged in Damodarpur village Panchayatin Bhojpur district, Bihar MPs and MLAs across party lines slept comfortably. The whole village was on fire tonight and crop lying in the agricultural fields were burnt to ashes. It also engulfed the houses of the villagers. No help reached at night.

Bihar Home Secretary Mr Amanullah was informed around 11 O' clock at night who promised help. He was informed by a Delhi based senior journalist from The Times of India at the behest of a villager.

Local legislators Lalmuni Choubey and Kanti were unreachable. The need for some 9-10 fire brigade buses was a felt need that was unmet. The husband ofthe local MLA was present but to no avail since he was helping physically rather than alerting the administration to act with promptness.

The crop waiting to be taken home was reduced to ashes in the fire.

Only one fire engine that is there in the district was lying defunct and there was no way to control the flames except sprinkling water in a primitive way.

No case was registered. The district administration did gave verbal assurances on phones. M N Safina, District Magistrate, Bhojpur was informed from Delhi about the goings on in the village. Raj Kumar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Managemnt also promised help from Patna at the earliest.

Fire incidents in this region are an annual feature still there is no disaster preparedness from the government side.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Cabinet Reshuffle in Bihar & at Centre

Upcoming Lok Sabha election dictate Ministerial choices both at Centre as well as in Bihar

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday pumped fresh blood into his 28-month-old ministry by inducting 19 new faces and dropping 10 "under-performing" ministers.

Seventeen ministers of Cabinet rank and two ministers of state were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Bihar governor R.S. Gavai at Raj Bhavan here. Of these 19, 13 belong to the Janata Dal (United) and six to the BJP.

Among the 19 new ministers who were administered the oath of office and secrecy included six EBCs, two members each from the Muslim and Dalit communities, five upper castes and four OBCs.

Kumar had earlier said that he would expand his ministry "any day, any time" and sought the resignation of his entire council of ministers on Sunday morning.

Barring his deputy, Sushil Modi, all 25 ministers complied, enabling the JD(U) chief minister to form a new team.

Kumar accepted the resignation of 10 ministers, eight from the JD(U) and two from the BJP, and retained the rest.

After the induction of 19 ministers, the strength of the new-look ministry rose to 36.

Those who were given the pink slip on the ground of 'less than satisfactory performance' will not be making a comeback in the new ministry.

They include

Health Minister Chandramohan Rai,

Sports, Art and Culture Minister Janardan Singh Sigriwal,

Building Minister Monazir Hasan,

Rural Development Minister Baidyanath Mahto,

Food, Supply, and Commerce Minister Suchitra Singh,

Social Welfare Minister Rameshwar Paswan,

Transport Minister Ajit Kumar,

Minority Welfare Minister Manzar Alam,

Minor Irrigation Minister Vishwamohan Rai, and

Information and Public Relations Minister Arjun Rai.

Among the new faces to join the Nitish cabinet are :
Bhola Singh,
Giri Raj Singh,
Vyasdeo Prasad,
Ram Narayan Mandal,
Renu Devi,
Ram Pravesh Rai,
Awadhesh Narayan Singh, and
Vyasdeo Prasad (all from BJP)

and Nagmani (husband of outgoing minister Suchitra Singh),
Jitan Ram Manjhi,
Shahid Ali Khan,
Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha,
Dinesh Chandra Yadav,
Dinesh Prasad,
Chhedi Paswan,
Hari Narayan Singh,
Damodar Raout,
Ramanand Singh,
Hari Prasad Sah, and
Jamshed Ashraf (all from JD-U).

Governor R. S. Gavai swore in all the new ministers in the presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chowdhary, and Bihar Legislative Council chairperson Prof. Arun Kumar. Opposition leaders were not present on the occasion.

Former Urban Development Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey who was one of the first ones to tender his resignation at the call of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made no bones about his frustration with his removal from the Urban Development department to the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED).

New Cabinet:

Nitish Kumar - Chief Minister, Home, Administrative Reforms
Sushil Kumar Modi – Deputy Chief Minister, Finance, Commerce
Nand Kishore Yadav – Health
Ashwini Kumar Choubey – PHED
Vijendra Prasad Yadav – Water Resources
Ramashray Prasad Singh – Energy, Parliamentary Affairs
Narendra Singh – Food and Consumers
Sudha Srivastava – Planning and Development
Prem Kumar – Road Construction
Nagmani – Agriculture
Ramnath Thakur - Law (Additional charge of Information and Public Relations)
Jitan Ram Manjhi – Scheduled Castes Welfare
Narendra Narayan Yadav – Revenue and Land Reforms
Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha – Urban Development
Shahid Ali Khan – Science and Technology (Additional charge of Minority Welfare)
Bhola Singh – Urban Development
Giri Raj Singh – Cooperative
Dinesh Prasad – Minor Irrigation Resources
Dinesh Chandra Yadav – Industry
Chhedi Paswan - Building Construction
Damodar Raout – Social Welfare
Harinarayan Singh – Human Resources and Development
Ramanand Singh – Transport
Renu Devi – Art, Culture, and Youth Affairs
Hari Prasad Sah – Panchayati Raj (additional charge of Extreme Backward Welfare)
Ram Narayan Mandal – Fishery
Ram Pravesh Rai – Tourism
Awadhesh Narayan Singh – Labor Resources

Independent Charge:
Dr. Anil Kumar – Information Technology
Gautam Singh – Sugarcane
Ram Chandra Sahni – Mining and Geology
Nitish Mishra – Emergency Management
Ramji Das Rishideo – Forestry and Environment
Jamshed Ashram – Excise and Prohibition

State Minister:
Vyasdeo Prasad - Health

The biggest beneficiaries in the exercise were the EBCs. Among the members from this social category who found representation in the council of ministers are four Koeris (Vyasdeo Prasad, Nagmani, Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha and Dinesh Prasad Kushwaha), one Nonia (Renu Kumari) and Halwai (Hari Prasad Sah).

While Jeetan Ram Manjhi and Chhedi Paswan are the two members from the Dalit community, Nitish Kumar made up for the exit of two Muslims (Monazir Hassan and Manzar Alam) by including as many new members from the community (Shahid Ali Khan and Jamshed Ashraf).

The new ministers sworn in on Sunday also include four OBCs —Dinesh Chandra Yadav, Hari Narain Singh (Kurmi), Damodar Rout (Dhanuk) and Ram Narayan Mandal (Teli).

Three Bhumihars (Giriraj Singh, Bhola Prasad Singh and Ramanand Prasad Singh) and two Rajputs (Ram Pravesh Rai and Awadhesh Narayan Singh) also figure in the new lot of ministers.

Earlier, at the central level too there is a cabinet reshuffle in the first week of April wherein Raghunath Jha was inducted as the Brahmin face of RJD in the Lok Sabha. He entered active politics in 1960s as a socialist before switching over to Congress, Janata party, RJD, JD-U and finally rejoining Lalu Prasad`s party. An ardent follower of former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, the 69-year-old Jha remained a member of socialist party till 1972 before switching over to Congress and successfully contesting the assembly elections from Sheohar. He represented the constituency in 1972, 1977 and 1980 on Congress ticket and became a minister in the erstwhile Jagannath Mishra ministry in Bihar.

As he paraded in favour of Mishra before the Raj Bhavan in 1985 in support of the latter`s candidature for the post of Chief Minister and ouster of the then Chief Minister Bhagwat Jha Azad, Jha was denied re-nomination from Sheohar for "disobeying" the Congress leadership. Jha then resigned from the Congress` primary membership and secured a Janata party ticket when Chandra Shekhar was its president. He won the elections to the Sheohar assembly seat for the fourth time in a row.

After merger of former Prime Minister V P Singh`s Jan Morcha, Janata Party and Lok Dal of former deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal in Bangalore in 1988, Jha was made the state president of Janata Dal in Bihar.

But his relations with Singh was going well and he was removed from the post in three months. A few months after his removal, Jha was made chairman of the party`s parliamentary board in Bihar following Chandra Shekhar`s intervention.

He was pitted as chief ministerial candidate against Lalu Prasad and former Chief Minister Ramsunder Das by Chandra Shekhar in a triangular contest in 1990 but lost.

Only 18 MLAs voted in favour of Jha as Lalu became the Chief Minister. Jha was made a minister with important portfolios of agriculture, land and revenue. Jha did not seem overly excited when he got that call that he was going to be sworn in. "I have been a minister many times in Bihar. We are like Everyday batteries, ready to go all the time. And so is the case now," he said.