Rajasthan’s social justice and empowerment minister Arun Chaturvedi visited the government rehabilitation home for the mentally ill at Jamdoli twice in four days. But for the officials of his department, weekends are not for work – even if it is an emergency.
Chaturvedi made a number of announcements during his press briefing on Friday after 11 deaths of children over 12 days was reported – water purifiers, air coolers, cleaning of overhead water tank – but the implementation began only on Monday, a working day.
It couldn’t be just a coincidence that when the department officials were lugging along new air conditioners, mineral water bottles and dust bins for the home, a team of doctors from Centre was in town. Hence the effort to paint a rosy picture.
Sounds of harmonium and clapping hands could be heard near the gate of the home, 10km off Jaipur.
The minister arrived around 2pm and tried to sound nothing was abnormal: “I am not aware of any central team’s visit. I visit the home regularly. Today, I will have lunch with these children,” he announced to a posse of reporters.
But a man carrying a food packet couldn’t escape lens men’s eyes – and cameras. Government machinery soon circulated photos of the great photo-op that the minister had when he squatted on the floor to have food with some selected inmates on social media, making sure that they found their way to newspaper offices.
“I drank the water that inmates here drink,” the minister told reporters two hours later when he was leaving Jamdoli. Mineral water bottles were conspicuous by their presence in the home verandah. All this while, bamboo blinds blocked media’s eyes. Green blinds were put up near air coolers and at the main gate.