A day after the Nitish Kumar government distributed expensive gifts to Bihar’s MLAs and MLCs, six BJP legislators, including senior party leader Sushil Kumar Modi, decided to return them to express solidarity with lakhs of schoolteachers who have not been paid their salaries since December 2015. BJP president Mangal Pandey, leader of Opposition in the assembly Prem Kumar and legislators Dilip Jaiswal, Sanjeev Chaurasia, Nitin Navin and Lal Babu Prasad also returned the gifts.
Sushil Modi on Twitter said it was not fair for the government to shower gifts on legislators as teachers had not been paid salaries for the last four months. The government should take measures to pay salaries to the teachers, he said.
Modi also urged chief minister Nitish Kumar to do away with the age-old practice of distributing gifts.
Senior ministers of Bihar had earlier defended the government’s move, saying some legislators were poor and some of them would use the microwave ovens to test the quality of the mid-day meals served to students in government schools.
Ridiculing their statements, Modi said more than half of the legislators were “crorepatis”.
He said the speaker of the legislative assembly and the council chairman should convene a meeting of the business advisory committee for imposing a ban on the practice of distributing gifts.
The BJP leader, however, clarified that the BJP as such had not taken any decision on accepting or returning the gifts.
“It depends on the discretion and judgement of the party legislators whether to receive or refuse the gifts,” he said. HT also contacted other BJP legislators but they were undecided on the issue.
“We are awaiting a firm direction on the issue from our senior leaders,” they said.