Bihar Agriculture Minister Sudhakar Singh Thursday said that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar could “sack” him for his perceived defiance but he will not step down unless asked to do so by the top leadership of his party, the RJD. Singh, who was sworn in and given the key portfolio barely a month ago, said he is ready to explain to the chief minister the problems faced by the agriculture department and denied having stormed out of the cabinet meeting as claimed by Kumar. If the CM wants to meet me and discuss issues raised by me, I will certainly meet him. But I have not received any communication from the chief minister’s office regarding the meeting so far, he told PTI.
I stand by what I have said. I have raised the issue of rampant corruption in my department and I still stick to that. I am not amending my statement … People have chosen me and I will continue to fight for them. It is up to the chief minister to judge whether my comments are right or wrong, Singh said. Being the leader of the cabinet, it is Kumar’s prerogative to sack him or ask him to resign from the council of ministers. “But I will go by the decision taken by my party’s (RJD) top leadership.
The final decision about the fate of my ministerial berth will be taken by my party chief, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, he averred. Singh’s assertions came a day after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters on Wednesday that he had tried to enquire from him (Sudhakar) about his grievances. Instead of replying he stormed out,” Kumar had said when asked about reports of the agriculture minister having created a scene at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The issue was not discussed at all even after the cabinet meeting. In fact, the issues that I have raised are not related to my department alone. Those can be sorted out only by the chief minister since he is the chairman of the governing body of Bihar Vikas Mission (BVM), Singh said. The BVM was constituted to ensure the implementation of the state government’s welfare schemes in mission mode, fixation of priorities, monitoring of achievements against the targets of programmes and other resolutions of its seven resolves for developing Bihar within the schemes of good governance, agriculture road map, Mission Manav Vikas and infrastructure development and industrial incentives.
When Bihar is facing a drought-like situation, the data compiled by my department and the rainfall reports give a contradictory picture. In most of the districts paddy fields are dry and have developed huge fissures but the department has come out with a figure that shows the transplantation of paddy seedlings in 86 per cent of the total targeted land. The picture is highly unrealistic. This is the issue that I have raised, Singh said. Kumar is worried about the drought-like situation in the state and is visiting affected areas almost every day but government officials appear to be “least bothered” about it.
“My department can’t make laws pertaining to wholesale markets for agricultural produce without the consent of other departments,” said Singh adding the chief minister will have to take initiative in this direction. Issues which I have raised involve several departments, including disaster management, directorate of economics and statistics and the metrological department. Only the chief minister can solve these issues by calling a joint meeting of all the departments concerned. I just can’t solve it alone, he added.
Sudhakar Singh, whose father Jagadanand Singh is the state RJD president, had spoken about rampant corruption at a public meeting in Kaimur district a couple of days ago. He told at the public meeting, There is not a single wing of our (agriculture) department that does not commit acts of theft. The government has changed, but the working style remained the same. Everything is the same as before.