Power ministers’ meet cancellation: JD(U) furious with Centre, Lalu says Rs 60 crore wasted
Patna,(BiharTimes): Janata Dal (United) is furious over the last-minute cancellation of the power ministers’ conference that was to be held on Friday and Saturday in Rajgir.
On the other hand RJD chief Lalu Prasad alleged the state government had wasted over Rs 60 crore for the conference that was finally cancelled.
Rubbing the salt into the wound of Nitish Kumar he alleged this was the BJP’s way of getting back at chief minister who had cancelled a dinner for saffron party bigwigs on June 12, 2010.
A senior JDU leader was quoted as saying the Centre should not have done this.
“We were informed about the cancellation around 3.30pmon Thursday. By then several dignitaries had already reached Patna and were en route to Rajgir…The sky was not falling. There was no emergency in the country,” he told The Telegraph.
“We have been told that a meeting of the Union council of ministers was going to be held on November 10 and hence it was not possible for R K Singh, the minister of state (independent charge) for power and new & renewable energy, to attend. So, the event was cancelled.”
He further said Bihar had missed the opportunity to showcase its achievements in the power sector to other states.
Nitish was to address a special 90-minute session on Bihar at the conference.
The JDU leader conceded the cancellation was “a bit embarrassing” for the state, which was going to host such an event for the first time.
Power ministers of Assam, Goa, Telangana and Chhattisgarh besides, about a dozen principal secretaries/secretaries of different states had reached Rajgir when the cancellation came.
Power ministers and senior officials from a few other states had also reached Patna when the news came in, said a Bihar State Power Holding Company source.
“It seemed that even the central government officials had not been kept in the loop as some very senior officials from the Union power ministry had reached Patna when the cancellation was announced,” an official of the power company told the daily.
Many dignitaries, including the power ministers of Tripura, Haryana and Telangana and senior officials of central agencies, had to wait for hours at Patna airport to take the return flight on Friday.
“Poor visibility didn’t allow the flight operations to commence before 3pm,” said an official. “Hence there was a huge rush at the airport and the dignitaries had no option but to wait,” said an official.
Meanwhile, Lalu asked as to what is the reason behind the cancellation? Is it because of Nitish who too had once pulled the plate of BJP leaders or is it because Nitish was thinking of taking credit for organising such a programme?
The government had also made arrangements for cultural programmes in the evening for the ministers and officials coming from different states.
Singer Sonu Nigam and his team were hired for Rs 60 lakh, they have even reached Patna along with their team members," Lalu claimed. “They all came by flight and are staying in Maurya hotel and getting free food and lodging. Many power ministers have even reached Patna and some are on the way. Nitish must explain why such a big event was called off at the last minute. The state's money was just wasted.”
Lalu claimed the government was searching for another place in Patna to hold the cultural event as Nigam would not return his fee. A senior official at Maurya confirmed that the singer had checked in at the hotel.
Lalu said Nitish visited Rajgir twice to check the preparations and the government had made detailed arrangements.
“From Patna to Rajgir, all the power substations left and right of the road was revamped. Free LED bulbs were distributed among the villagers near Rajgir and even the mountain of Rajgir was decorated. Was the event cancelled on the instruction of the PM? This shows that BJP has scant regard for Nitish,” Lalu alleged at a Press conference.
He rubbished the official reason cited for the cancellation, a Union cabinet meeting called by the PM.
“The conference was for not Union cabinet ministers, it was a conference of state power ministers," Lalu pointed out. "It was a two-day event, R.K. Singh (Union minister of state who was to inaugurate the event) could have come on the second day or sent the power secretary,” Lalu said.