PATNA: Union minister Upendra Kushwaha on Sunday drew snide remarks from the ruling JD(U) in Bihar over his new stance that he was ready to "forgive and forget" alleged humiliation at the hands of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and give up his insistence on a "respectable" share of seats within the NDA in Lok Sabha elections.
Kushwaha made a statement to this effect on Saturday night while talking to a local news channel amid speculations that he might announce his exit from the NDA, in the wake of the BJP giving a cold shoulder to his ultimatum for finalising seat-sharing by November 30.
"I am ready to forgive and forget everything, the insults heaped on me personally and the shortchanging of my party on the issue of seats, if the government in Bihar assures that it would work on my 25-point charter of demands. As the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, I value improving education above everything else," he said.
Waving a copy of the charter of demands obtained from the media, JD(U) MLC and spokesman Neeraj Kumar said at least the Union minister could have taken care to ensure that the draft was not "replete with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors".
"Bihar has been witness to two models of education. One was the Charvaha Vidyalaya of Lalu Prasad. The other is the model of Nitish Kumar, which has thrown up institutions like the IIT Patna, the Nalanda University and the Chanakya Law College. Kushwaha has made clear which model he stands for," he said.
Kumar also wondered what the RLSP chief had done to improve the education scenario in Bihar as a Union minister.
"Education is not in the state list but the concurrent list. He cannot evade responsibility by pretending it is exclusively a state matter."
Kumar's views were echoed by JD(U) MLC Ashok Chowdhury, who had served as the state education minister when he was the state Congress president and it was ruled by the Grand Alliance.
"He (Kushwaha) holds a portfolio that makes him responsible for education and all he does is moving around with demands. Does he have any sense of responsibility? What had he been doing for the past five years," Chowdhury questioned.
The charter of demands includes the appointment of school teachers through the Bihar Public Service Commission, re-evaluation of teaching staff appointed since 2003, exempting teachers from all non-teaching work, making 75 per cent attendance mandatory, modernisation of madrasas and timely holding of students' union elections.