The opposition BJP in Bihar was on Monday reminded by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, on the floor of the state assembly, of his initiative to provide government jobs to sports persons during his tenure in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at the Centre.
Kumar rose to interject when BJP MLA Nitish Mishra did not seem satisfied with the reply, to his question by minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav.
Mishra had sought to know whether it was true that there have been no recruitments from the sports quota in the state in the last seven years. The minister told the House that in 2015, a year after rules were enacted to facilitate government recruitment through sports quota, recommendations were made for appointment of 78 sports persons. The minister also said that such appointments were put on hold for some time following a stay order, in 2021, by Patna High Court which vacated the same a year later after which the process has resumed and 27 sports persons have been chosen for counselling.
The BJP MLA, however, wanted to know whether "recommendations" made in 2015 actually resulted in joining letters being issued. Kumar, the longest serving Chief Minister of Bihar, grew impatient with the hair-splitting and rose in his seat.
"Are you people aware when did sports persons started getting government jobs", said Kumar quizzically and responded with an admonitory "listen attentively!" to drown out murmurs from the opposition benches.
"It was during the government of (shraddhey) Atal ji. I was a minister and it was at my instance that sports persons started getting jobs in the portfolio I held". The septuagenarian, in an apparent slip of tongue, used the word "grih" (Home) to denote the portfolio he held in the Vajpayee government.
Known to be one of the favourite ministers of the late PM, Kumar had held surface transport, Railways and agriculture portfolios at various points of time between 1999 and 2004.
"When I came here you people were with me", said the JD(U) leader who assumed power in the state in 2005 with BJP, now his adversary, as an alliance partner.
"We decided to give jobs to sports persons here too. And that is being done. Why are you making a big fuss? If you have come across any problem, point it out. It will get rectified", added Kumar, who has of late been bewildering his former allies with bouts of temper.