Monday, April 13, 2015

Over 30 NDA MPs move privilege notice in Lok Sabha against Bihar IAS Sudhir Kumar; 10 Things to Know

Kumar (2nd from right), Lalu Prasad (left) among others (File Photo)
IN A rare instance, over 30 MPs of the BJP and its allies from Bihar moved a privilege notice in Lok Sabha against 1982 batch IAS officer Sudhir Kumar, now member of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), alleging that the senior bureaucrat “insulted” the law makers over a discussion on the condition of Bihar’s road projects. Kumar, 59, in his capacity as officer on special duty (OSD) to the then railways minister Lalu Yadav during the UPA-I, played a key role in the Indian Railways’ “turnaround” saga. Here are 10 things about this new Neta-Babu row:

1. The discussion on progress of highways in Bihar turned sour on the issue of the NHAI allowing foreclosure of a contract with a private infrastructure company which was to execute Patna-Buxar highway project. According to reports published in The Times of India, some MPs including IAS-turned BJP Member of Parliament RK Singh demanded a CBI probe into the foreclosure by the NHAI.
2. Kumar contested the charge and said his integrity could not be questioned. “Imaandaari kisi ki bapauti nahin hain (honesty is not anyone's exclusive trait)”, Kumar reportedly told the MPs.
3. It resulted into a heated exchange of words between the IAS officer and the MPs. Road transport minister Nitin Gadkari under whose ministry the NHAI falls, was also present in that meeting.
4. Kumar’s tone and tenor was “insulting”, according to the complaint given to Lok Sabha Speaker. The MPs further alleged that “the officer made several false statements to exonerate himself and the contractors, misleading the members in the course of discharge of their responsibilities as MPs, which is breach of privilege," according to a Hindustan Times report.
5. Meanwhile, the Speaker’s office forwarded the complaint to road transport ministry which is expected to submit its response. Then, a decision on the privilege notice will be taken.
6. Kumar co-authored a book titled “Bankruptcy to Billions: How the Indian Railways Transformed Itself”. Lalu Prasad’s successors, however, claimed that the so called railway turnaround story was the result of changes in accounting methods.
7. A post-graduate in commerce, Kumar originally hails from Haryana.
8. He was collector and district magistrate in districts such as Santhal Parganas, Sitamarhi, Dhanbad and Hazaribag.
9. Kumar was a director in the ministry of power when present railway minister Suresh Prabhu was the power minister during the Vajpayee regime.
10. Kumar has been the Member (PPP) in NHAI since April 2013, and there have been rumours that Prabhu might bring him to the ministry of railways. In the current context, such a possibility is however ruled out.

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