Bihar chief minister, it appears, has competition, so far as Bihar popularity stakes go.
His own health minister, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, gives him company in the category of ‘politics’, going by a new survey covering three districts of Bihar. The report was released in Patna on Thursday.
Kumar and Chaubey are the only politicians to make this list. Even deputy chief minister Sushil Modi, seen as Choubey’s rival in Bihar BJP politics, has failed to figure on it.
But there’s a catch to Choubey’s sudden surge of popularity. The survey was commissioned by the Bihar’s state health society, of which Choubey, being health minister, is ex-officio chairman.
But this isn’t the only reason why the survey results may be eyed with suspicion. Another possible source of controversy may be that Bhagalpur, the health minister’s constituency, is among the three districts surveyed.
Going by the title, Strengthening Health, Transforming Lives, the survey has been carried out by Heroes Project, an organization “which leverages the power of societal leaders and media to improve public health and social well-being”, revealed a Google search.
As per the survey, the Bihar chief minister was the only leader traversing all categories that were covered. The next who had stakes int the overall popularity, after Kumar was the millennium star Amitabh Bachchan.
Bhojpuri singer-actor Manoj Tiwari, actor Aamir Khan and cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni shared the third spot.
Bollywood actors Aishwarya Rai and Hema Malini, Bhojpuri singers Pawan Singh and Khesari Lal, social activist Anna Hazare, yoga guru Baba Ramdev and cricketer Virendra Sehwag were the only others who made the list.
Quoting Anil Kumar of Baijani village in Jagdishpur block of Bhagalpur, one of the respondents of the survey, the report said, "If Amitabh Bachchan or Nitishji give us messages over phone, we will be very happy to listen."
Chandan Kumar, a respondent of Dhanour village, Katra block of Muzaffarpur, said: "We respect Nitishji. If he advises us on health issues, we will definitely put it into practice."
Besides Bhagalpur, in south-eastern Bihar, the survey covered Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur districts of north Bihar.
A couple of BJP ministers HT spoke to, laughed off the survey findings but refrained from saying anything on record.