Today's Paper

Governor's letter sparks controversy

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Both Bihar Governor Buta Singh and Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad on Friday maintained that there was nothing wrong with the former writing a letter to the latter for transfer of a middle-level Railway Ministry bureaucrat while senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra described it as "highly improper''.

On the other hand, the Railway Ministry said the officer concerned had been posted to South Western Railway in the same capacity in his cadre on August 2, a fortnight before the media highlighted an official letter written by Mr. Buta Singh to the Railway Minister in early July requesting transfer of the officer, Vijay P. Meshram, to Central Railway.

"There is no such proposal at present to transfer Mr. Meshram to Central Railway. All such matters are dealt with on merit as per rules. An appropriate reply to the Governor of Bihar is in the process of being issued,'' added the statement by the Railway Ministry.

Reacting to the reports, the Bihar Governor clarified that there was no code for Governors that says whether a Governor can write letters or not.

Talking to newspersons here, Mr. Buta Singh said he had recommended the case of a Scheduled Caste officer and, if necessary, he would do so again.

The Railway Minister also confirmed that the Bihar Governor had written to him seeking transfer of the official over a month ago but felt "it was natural (for the Governor) to write a letter to me''.

"It is natural (for the Governor) to write a letter to me ... what is the big deal if he (Governor) wrote a letter?'' Mr. Prasad added. The Railway Minister met United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi during the day but said the meeting had nothing to do with the matter but was about the Rural Employment Guarantee Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

NDA meeting on Monday

Meanwhile, a meeting of National Democratic Alliance leaders has been called for next Monday to discuss the "highly improper" recommendation for transfer of the railway official by the Bihar Governor, said Mr. V.K. Malhotra here on Friday.

The meeting would discuss three issues and decide how to raise them in Parliament. The conduct of Mr. Buta Singh and the Opposition strategy on moving amendments to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Billwere among other issues that would be discussed, Mr. Malhotra said. Mr. Malhotra and BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the party would demand recall of the Bihar Governor "as elections cannot be conducted impartially with Mr. Singh in the Raj Bhavan".

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