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I will apply Lalu's style to change ministry: Jha

A day after being appointed the minister of state for heavy industries and public enterprises with independent charge, Raghunath Jha exudes confidence and optimism.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 07, 2008 06:09 PM IST

The turnaround of the Indian Railways pioneered by his leader Lalu Prasad is exactly the miracle story Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Raghunath Jha is looking for in his new ministry, heavy industries and public enterprises.

A day after being made the minister of state for heavy industries and public enterprises with independent charge, Jha exuded confidence and optimism.

"A positive performance is possible in two days or two years. I am sure to make a turnaround of heavy industries and public enterprises in the coming months," said the MP from Bihar's Bettiah Lok Sabha constituency.

Taking a cue from Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, who is credited with changing the fortunes of the Indian Railways, a beaming Jha told IANS at his residence in New Delhi: "I will apply his style to change the face of heavy industries and public enterprises."

Ready to go to work and take up his new assignment, Jha, clad in a white kurta-dhoti with black leather shoes, candidly admitted that he would have to first review the working of the ministry and gain knowledge: "At present, I am a lay person for the ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises. But I will soon understand it fully, and it will move forward."

Surrounded by dozens of people -- including party workers, leaders and government officials mostly from Bihar -- who had gathered to congratulate him, the 69-year-old said: "I will prove it, my performance will be the real indicator."

He hinted a revival package for sick units. "I will look into it positively, I cannot say anything more now."

The two times MP, elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time on a Samata Party ticket in 1999, recounted how he lost out on a ministerial berth in 2004.

Saying that "it was mere chance that I could not make it to the first lot", Jha recalled what had gone wrong. He blames it on filmmaker Prakash Jha, who had contested as an independent against him in Bettiah in 2004 and had insisted on a recount, leading to the results being delayed by a month.

"It was a deliberate attempt on the part of Prakash Jha to create trouble for me and hinder my entry into the central ministry," said the man who first became a legislator in 1972.

"The official result of my parliamentary constituency was delayed due to a re-poll in 464 booths on the basis of a petition filed by Prakash Jha, who got only 25,000 votes."

But all that is in the past. Jha is finally a minister, with one lasting regret that his political guru, former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, is not here to see his elevation.

"Chandra Shekhar was the real one behind my journey from a village in flood-prone Sitamarhi district to the central ministry."

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