Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday justified his government annulling 34 populist decisions taken by his predecessor Jitan Ram Manjhi days before demitting office saying these were basically "non-decisions" as no laid down procedure was followed.
"The decision (to annul) was taken on the basis of legal opinion which advised so as no laid down procedures were followed," Kumar told reporters justifying decision of his cabinet yesterday to annul approval given by Manjhi Cabinet on 34 items during cabinet meeting on February 10, 18 and 19.
"The decision (to annul) was taken not on the basis of merit of the items but on the basis of non compliance of procedure," Kumar said.
"In a way these were 'non-decisions' as it did not follow set rules," the Bihar CM said while justifying doing away with the 34 approvals given by Manjhi cabinet before resigning on February 20.
"There was no cabinet note for these approvals and it violated established rule of executive business," Kumar said.
"In a way these were verbal decisions which was given the shape of cabinet decision," he said, adding even they (the previous government of Manjhi) could not have implemented these "irregular" decisions.
"It could have invited scrutiny at some stage," he said.
Kumar said it was first of its kind experience for him in his long experience of working in Union Cabinet as well in eight-and-a-half year of working in the state cabinet.
"Had we gone ahead on these decisions we would have been party to the irregularities adopted in taking such decisions," he said to drive home his point.
With even some leaders of supporting RJD party seeking review of the cabinet decisions to annul 34 approved proposals of Manjhi cabinet, Kumar stressed the departments have been given freedom to review merit of these proposals and if they find merit in them after following due procedure it could be brought before the cabinet again.
"My USP is 'sushasan' (good governance) and by vetting such irregular decisions I could have compromised with sushasan which is not possible...Even we in cabinet are not free to take any decisions without following procedures," he said.
The items annulled included increasing fund for legislators from Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore annually under CM Development schemes from next fiscal, setting up a committee to study reservation for poor among forward castes, providing 13 months salaries to policemen instead of 12 months and reservation for backward, most backward and women applicants in contract of Road Construction department.
Some other sanctions accorded by Manjhi Cabinet which were done away were reserving 35 per cent post for women in government services in non-gazetted posts and appointment of one "Swachhata karmi" (cleanness staff) in 46,000 villages at a payment of Rs 5,000 per month.
It also included approval given to a proposal to recommend to the Centre to provide Rs 1,000 additional amount to cooks under mid-day meal scheme, and increasing payment to Home Guards from Rs 300 to Rs 400 per day and increasing TA for them from 20 percent to 50 percent.
Before yesterday's decision, the Nitish Kumar in its first meeting had already turned down Manjhi cabinet decision to replace Advocate General Ram Balak Mahto with Vinod Kumar Kanth by reinstating Mahto.
Meanwhile, the Nitish Cabinet decision to annul approval given by Manjhi cabinets to 34 proposals has triggered protest.
Policemen have decided not to celebrate holi tomorrow against the decision to struck down the approved proposal of Manjhi cabinet to pay 13 months salary to policemen in place of 12 months.
Even leaders of supporting parties like RJD have spoken against it and sought review of the decision.
RJD spokesman Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha said, "We demand that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should reconsider his decision. It is not necessary to accept all the resolutions of Manjhi, but better pay to policemen and home guards is a welfare move."
Kushwaha said giving 13-month salary will compensate a little for the hard duty to which the police personnel are put to 365 days a year. "We all see this, and something should be done for them," he added.
RJD MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav has also protested Nitish Cabinet decision and sought review of it.