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Bihar minister sends brother to govt function as representative: Nitish disapproves

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Patna, Mar 05: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday expressed displeasure over reports of one of his cabinet colleagues deputing a family member as his ''representative'' to a government function which the minister himself could not attend.

Nitish Kumar

Kumar told the assembly that he read in newspapers about the incident that took place in Hajipur, the district headquarters of Vaishali, and ''if it is true, it should not have happened''.

The chief minister was intervening in reply to the issue being flagged by RJD MLA Bhai Virendra who questioned the ''propriety'' of Mukesh Sahni, a newly inducted minister, sending his brother as a representative to the function held on Wednesday by a government vehicle.

The function was held to disburse benefits under a scheme introduced by the government under which fishermen belonging to extremely backward classes or SC/ST groups will be getting heavy subsidies for purchase of motor vehicles.

Sahni, founder of the fledgling Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), holds the fisheries portfolio.

As per the scheme run by his department, the government will bear 90 per cent of the expenses incurred towards purchase of cars, three-wheelers or two-wheelers.

At Wednesdays function, more than 20 beneficiaries of the scheme were handed over keys of the vehicles purchased by them and the release issued by the district administration mentioned the presence of ''Santosh Sahni, the representative of honourable minister for fisheries and animal husbandry Mukesh Sahni''.

Media reports said that Sahni was a brother of the minister and video footage beamed by some local channels showed the ''representative'' fumbling when asked to name the scheme under which he was giving away the doles.

A former Bollywood set designer who took the political plunge less than three years ago, Mukesh Sahni floated VIP with a view to channelling the numerically strong but politically disorganised Nishad (fishermen) community.

He remained with the Grand Alliance helmed by the RJD- Congress combine for quite some time, quitting it just ahead of the assembly elections after the seat-sharing arrangements left him with a feeling of humiliation.

He was admitted to the NDA after a meeting with top BJP leaders in Delhi and the saffron party accommodated his party by giving it 11 seats out of its own quota.

Four seats were won by VIP, though Sahni himself lost from Simri Bakhtiyarpur.

He was, nonetheless, inducted into the state cabinet and the BJP helped him get elected to the legislative council from a seat vacated by its veteran leader Vinod Narayan Jha who is now an MLA.

Fellow MLC and BJP leader Nawal Kishore Yadav also reacted to the controversy surrounding the minister and told reporters ''it is unfortunate. He (Sahni) must avoid such mistakes''.

Sources close to Sahni said the minister could not attend the function himself since he was busy with the ongoing assembly session.

People in the know of things say that while a minister sending a ''representative'' to a function was not without precedent, Sahni had erred in choosing a person who was neither a government official nor an elected representative.

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