It was a happy Friday for as many as 243 Bihar MLAs, for each of them were gifted microwaves by the state's education department during the ongoing state budget session. The total cost incurred for handing out the favours was a whooping Rs 30 lakh.
On other days during the budget session, the MLAs received suitcases and mobile phones as gifts.
CORRECTION: Bihar MLAs given gifts during budget session in State Assembly. pic.twitter.com/eSsXGOQbwG— ANI (@ANI_news) March 18, 2016
The logic behind this state-sponsored generosity, as told by the state's education minister Ashok Choudhary to ANI, was that it's been a tradition for the last 4-5 years where every department gives away favours to MLAs to thank them for their contribution.
It’s general tradition from last 4-5 yrs.Every department used to give.So education dept is also giving-State education Min Ashok Choudhary— ANI (@ANI_news) March 18, 2016
He said the MLAs' hard work through the year helps departments decide which areas need focus when the state's budget is being prepared. He mentioned that since all departments gave out gifts, the education department followed suit.
In his interview to ANI, Bihar's education minister also stated that profitable institutions within various departments like Bihar board, Vidyalaya Pariksha Samiti handed out the gifts. He went onto say that it was just a matter of Rs 30 lakh and it was unfair to hype the issue.
Institutions like Bihar board,vidyalaya pariksha samiti are in profit,so traditionally they used to give gifts during budget-Ashok Choudhary— ANI (@ANI_news) March 18, 2016
Although Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had no words to spare over the issue, his deputy Tejaswi Yadav told NDTV, "The people who get elected here are not crorepatis but poor people. What is so wrong if they get some gifts? Please don't rake up such issues."