Lack of proper welcome to a newly inducted minister in Bihar on Wednesday caused the suspension of two officials of the department concerned. BJP leader Janak Ram, who was inducted into the Nitish Kumar cabinet on Tuesday, had reached the department of mines and geology as per schedule to take charge.
Thronged by supporters, Ram was left mortified to find there was no director rank official to escort him to his chamber as per tradition and the principal secretary was in a meeting. Bristling at the unintended slight, Ram, a Dalit leader who has formerly represented the Gopalganj Lok Sabha seat, said he would accept the bouquet from the Class IV employee standing nearby.
As peon Santosh Yadav did so, Ram fondly patted him on the back and said he considered the lower rank employee ‘mera bhai’ (my brother) and vowed to crack down on the mafia, who “I am told this department has to contend with”.
Murmurs about the state’s notorious ‘afsarshahi’ (bureaucratic high handedness) kept doing the rounds until Principal Secretary Harjot Kaur arrived, expressed regret to the minister for the lapse and offered him a bouquet which Ram gladly accepted.
Replying to queries by journalists later, she said, “All this took place because of the failure of the honourable minister’s personal secretary Rajendra Chauhan and LDC (lower division clerk) Santosh Kumar to inform us about the arrival schedule. They have hence been suspended and issued a show cause.” She also voiced disapproval of the whispers in the corridor that absence of senior officials to receive the minister denoted ‘afsarshahi’.
It is unthinkable that senior officials will fail to give ministers the respect that is their due. In Bihar this is not possible, she said. Ram, who was sitting across the table, his temper by then cooled, concurred.
We will all work in tandem to ensure that the department functions in the best possible manner. There is no afsarshahi here, he said.