"An utterance denigrating the position of a Chief Minister"

Patna: Union Minister of State for Food Akhilesh Prasad Singh on Tuesday hit back at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for criticising his colleagues in the UPA Ministry for demanding the shifting of an urn containing relics of the Buddha from Patna Museum.

"It is nothing else but arrogance," Abhishek, a senior RJD leader, told reporters while commenting on Kumar's statement yesterday.

Disagreeing with demands for shifting the urn from Patna Museum to Vaishali, Kumar had criticised senior RJD leader and Union Minister for Rural Development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh for trying to create an "unnecessary controversy" over the matter.

On Kumar's alleged remark that Raghuvansh wanted to "patent" Vaishali, Abhishek said, "It is an unnecessary utterance denigrating the position and prestige of a CM."

The RJD had launched a seven-day Vikas March from Kesariya in East Champaran district on January 27 in support of various demands, including the reopening of closed sugar mills, rectification of the BPL list and shifting of the Buddha's relics to Vaishali.

Referring to the comment made by the Chief Minister that he (Akhilesh) had made "a surprise inspection" of Patna Medical College and Hospital yesterday, the Union Minister said this was another example of his "arrogance".

"I visited the hospital to enquire about the health of an RJD activist from my constituency. Since I was the Minister for health in the State ministry for eight years and now I am a Central Minister, I know my limitations," he said. "It will be better if Kumar engages himself in doing work instead of criticising Central Ministers who are only doing their duties by highlighting the failures of the State Government," Akhilesh said.

He circulated photocopies of the letter faxed to Kumar by Raghuvansh from New Delhi in which he had registered a protest against the Chief Minister's statement targeting him.

Taking exception to the Bihar Government's claim that it had sanctioned proposals worth hundreds of crores of rupees for setting up new sugar mills in the private sector, Akhilesh asked the Chief Minister to explain as to whether the plots required for opening these mills had been acquired.

"Merely according sanction to proposals from private entrepreneurs will not serve the purpose. The State Government has to make available the land required for the new complexes," he said.

"If the State Government is really interested in expanding the sugar industry, it should have allotted all its closed sugar mills to entrepreneurs to start work," he said. The State Government sat on files for several months for withdrawing the petition in the Patna High Court filed by it for liquidation all closed mills, he alleged.

He also criticised the State Government for an alleged inordinate delay for providing cards to over 10 lakh below-poverty line families in the State. -- PTI