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Beneficiaries in Bihar are told to say ‘all is well’ to CM

A day after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took a virtual tour of community kitchens for the poor during the COVID-19 pandemic in as many as 22 of the State’s 38 districts, videos allegedly revealing a different picture went viral on social media on Tuesday.

In one of these videos, district officials at the Hajipur community kitchen in Vaishali district were seen telling a middle-aged beneficiary sitting on a wooden bench, wearing a vest and having food, to say, “Sab badhiya hai (all is well),” to Mr. Kumar, if he were to interact with the man about arrangements at the Centre. The beneficiary is seen listening to the official with rapt attention and nodding in agreement.

Earlier, efforts had been made by the local administration to have the Hajipur community kitchen look its clean best, with banners and posters put up.

All 22 District Magistrates made detailed presentations to the CM on the community kitchens at their respective districts.

In the second video that has gone viral, district officials at the Bagha community kitchen in Begusarai district set up restaurant-like facilities, with covered chairs, table-cloths, and food served by people wearing plastic gloves and headgear. However, a day later, the tables and chairs looked bare, and children were seen serving food to the poor beneficiaries at the centre. An employee at the centre is heard saying in the video, “Yesterday, some arrangements were made because of the Chief Minister’s video conference and DM (District Magistrate) saheb’s programme.”

On his virtual tour, Mr. Kumar spoke to some of the beneficiaries and district officials about the facilities and quality of food served at the centres. He even asked officials to show the quality of food to him on video. The beneficiaries told the CM that the food was tasty and the arrangements were very good. “Tastier than our home,” said Hazra Khatoon, a beneficiary at the Jehanabad bus stand community kitchen.

The CM later asked officials to increase the number of community kitchens in their jurisdiction, and also make arrangements at them for providing milk for children.

“Such virtual tours are a farce. We all know how district officials put in all their resources to score points before the Chief Minister, but the arrangements vanish soon after programmes end. The CM should randomly visit such kitchens to see conditions there. He will then be face-to-face with grim reality,” said senior State Congress leader and party MLC Prem Chandra Mishra.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Tejashwi Yadav on Tuesday wrote a letter to Mr. Kumar urging that permission be given to him and his party leaders to visit hospitals to meet COVID-19 patients and their relatives, and to start community kitchens and set-up COVID care centres.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 4:18:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/beneficiaries-in-bihar-are-told-to-say-all-is-well-to-cm/article34589656.ece

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