Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has conceded that corruption prevailed in state apparently causing discomfiture to the ruling JD(U) and Nitish Kumar in the run-up to bypoll in 10 assembly seats next week.
"I have no qualms in admitting that corruption prevails in the official machinery from top to bottom," he told a batch of rural development officials at a function yesterday. "As a citizen, I can say with experience that no work gets done in government offices right upto block level without offering bribe to officials and employees..." Manjhi said.
The government employees demand bribe if one goes to them for any work, like issuance of caste certificate, he said, adding that they will not do that work if bribe is not paid to them or they may sit on applications endlessly on one pretext or other.
Manjhi said his family members had to pay a bribe of Rs. 5,000 to electricity department officials to get his power bill modified a couple of years ago. "The electricity department had sent a flattened bill of Rs. 25000 at my house in Gaya town a couple of years ago at a time when I was a minister....My family members tried their best to take up the matter with senior officials of that department, but to no avail," he recalled. "In the end, my family members had to cough up Rs. 5,000 as bribe to the department officials to get the bill rectified even though I was a minister in the government," Manjhi said.
He said that he later took up the matter with senior electricity officials who ordered raids to be carried out at some official s's houses in Gaya from where cash worth crores of rupees were seized. Manjhi's also said that Kumar did bring about development in Bihar, but corruption continued unabated.
Former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi hailed the Chief Minister for "exposing the bitter truth of bribery" ruling the corridor of power in the state. "...Manjhi has rightly said that bribery has reached to block level," Modi said.
Modi said, "It has only been 15 months after we were thrown out of the government by Kumar that corruption has increased alarmingly and reached to block offices.
Manjhi's remarks also drew sharp reaction from the RJD with its senior leader and former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh saying that the government should crack down on corrupt officials and employees.
Now that the Chief Minister has gone public about prevalence of rampant corruption in Bihar, the state government should not waste any time and crack down on corrupt government officials and employees, Singh said. The Congress, however, tried to downplay the Chief Minister's remarks saying it was not clear as to in what context he has spoken about corruption.