This November, the JD (U)-led government in Bihar will give a miss to the practice of presenting an annual report card on its developmental initiatives and progress made during the year. This will happen for the first time since CM Nitish Kumar headed his first JD (U)-led government in 2005.
Kumar, however, saw nothing unusual in the move. “This government (with the BJP) has been formed only in July this year”, he said, while responding to a query on the probable date of the release of the 12th annual report card, during an interaction with reporters..
On July 26, the JD (U) had jettisoned the electorally successful Grand Alliance (GA), dumping its 2015 assembly pre-poll partners—the RJD and Congress—to rejoin BJP and form a new government with its support in the state.
But the idea to drop the report card this year is being questioned as the government did not shy away from the release of a report card in November 2013, after Nitish ended a 17-year old alliance with the BJP in June that year.
Last year, the release 1st report of Grand Alliance was cancelled in the wake of the Indore-Patna Express tragedy in which 154 passengers were killed, many of whom were from Bihar. Instead, the 140-page report card, titled ‘Development with Justice’, was released on Information and Public Relations Department website the next day.
This year’s decision, it seems, has more to do with the apprehension that RJD would leave no chance to claim a share in the achievements, just as BJP had done to hammer in the point that the performance of departments under its ministers was better than the rest of the departments.
Sushil Kumar Modi, deputy chief minister in the first NDA cabinet (2005-10) and second (2010-June 2013), was supposedly a prime mover in those governments, handling complex departments like finance and commercial taxes.
On August 2 last, RJD chief Lalu Prasad had set the tone for ‘ differences’ in GA by claiming that his younger son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav was the only performer in the Nitish cabinet, while trying to put up a ‘conspiracy theory,’ which, he alleged, was aimed at compromising his son’s growing popularity.
However, deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi brushes aside such reasoning. “There is no rule prescribed that an annual report must be published. Rather, it is part of a tradition established by us. Three months is too short a time, for BJP ministers, to showcase achievements,” he said.
Asked whether it was indicative of a thought process that now favoured changing the November calendar to July (from 2018), Modi said, “One year will certainly give us the elbow room to work and perform. We will discuss and decide on the month.”