A Report on Patna AICC Session 1970
Frontier, 28 November 1970
The use of government machinery for party purposes by a political party in power amounts to corruption. A blatant example was the three-day Ruling Congress AICC session at Patna in October. It turned into a State show rather than a political party meet.
For the first time in the history of Bihar about 60 under secretaries, a contingent of magistrates and hundreds of peons were forced to forgo their Puja holidays to work and supervise the arrangements of the AICC session The Congress drama staged at Patna set a new record in misusing government machinery.
The total expense due to this session is estimated at about Rs 50 lakhs. It is of course a different matter that the party collected only Rs 3 lakhs and the rest of the expenditure was met by the various departments of the State Government.
First of all, the city of Patna was given a face-lift-the sole benefit to the people of Patna from the session. People residing in the central part of the town were sick of jumpy roads, which had not been repaired even after their crying themselves hoarse.
But it was done at long last. And that also by cancelling the Puja holidays in the concerned departments. Roads were repaired – not only simply tarred – but rather cemented on a war footing. To cap it all, traffic police posts and islands were constructed.
The State Public Works Department was also asked to repair the Rajendra Nagar Stadium, the venue of the session. The stadium, with a capacity of 100,000 people, was almost covered with a huge pandal capable of accommodating 10,000 people. And the construction of the entire pandal was made under the supervision of Government engineers.
At least 200 fans were put in the pandal. According to a local newspaper, the fans were supplied by a contractor of the Electricity Department. Thus, at least Rs 6.5 lakhs were spent in the construction of roads and the pandal.
To accommodate the delegates of the AICC the officers directed many hotel-owners, especially the posh ones, to keep their suites vacant during the session without any formal booking. Besides hotels, a number of newly built government quarters were brought into order to lodge the delegates.
The rest were accommodated by local industrialists, businessmen and big-wigs. It is further reported that top engineers of the PWD and PHED were employed to look after the comforts of the delegates regarding furniture, fittings and sanitation.
The misuse of government machinery during the AICC session was unprecedented. Never in the past had any political party in power utilised government staff on such a large scale.
It seemed as if the government servants were party servants. Even those matters which are essentially managed by party workers were handled by the government staff.
Those who have attended Congress sessions in the past know well that Congress Seva Dal volunteers are posted at entry and exit gates, and the police is kept at a distance as stand – by for any emergency.
But in this session, the functions of the Seva Dal were handed over to the police and instead of the white Seva Dal uniform the khaki police uniform could be seen all over Rajendra Nagar Stadium.
Two temporary police stations were started at Patna for the session. Two DIGs of police were specially deputed to supervise security arrangements. Thousands of policemen were also drawn away from their usual places of posting and brought to Patna.
It is alleged that services of 3,500 Central Reserve Policemen were also requisitioned. About 3 lakhs were spent on these arrangements.
Not only this. More than a score of secretariat officials of the rank of deputy secretary and under-secretary were ordered in writing not to leave the station in view of the session.
The officials could be seen attending personally to the arrangements of sitting, transportation, cooking etc. A special magistrate was deputed to supervise the kitchen.
The buses of the Bihar Rajya Transport Corporation were hired by the Reception Committee at the rate of Rs 2.12 per mile. Several other additional buses were put on the road for “the benefit of the public” according to Corporation sources, but several of them were seen plying half-empty and with ticketless passengers.
Besides this, a large number of government vehicles were requisitioned from different district headquarters and semi-government institutions like the National Coal Development Corporation to solve the conveyance problems of the delegates.
The Public Relations Department was forced to forgo its Puja holidays and its resources were frequently used for the propaganda of the ruling party. It was for the first time ever in the history that the PR Department vehicles were openly used for a political party.
The PR Department vans were found making necessary announcements and distributing presentations like bags, files etc. to the delegates of the AICC. Such facilities were unfortunately were not extended to other political parties when they held their conferences here earlier.
To cap it all, the Food Department of the Central Government sent special instructions to the Supply Department of the Bihar Government to arrange rice, wheat, sugar, vegetable oil etc. for the session. The local office of the Food Corporation of India was asked to provide good quality rice.
This is the small story of the Great Socialist Ruling Congress Party. God save the country.