The Union Budget 2023-24 was presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in Parliament.
Amid a bizarre scramble among political parties to “honour” the grassroots workers, the common men have turned out to be winners walking away with party tickets. At least four such leaders have managed to get tickets from various parties so far for the elections to the Rajya Sabha and the Bihar Legislative Council causing a sudden change in Bihar politics.
The latest in the list is Munni Devi, a washerwoman from Patna, who has been named RJD candidate for the Bihar Legislative Council polls to be held on June 20. The main Opposition party RJD can win a maximum of three seats on the basis of its numbers but the party nominated the unprivileged woman for the coveted post.
Munni who hails from the washerman’s community can still be seen washing and ironing clothes at a handcart outside the Khusrupur Railway Station in Patna although she was appointed the secretary of the party’s women’s cell. She was often seen attending party functions and joining welcome processions which caught the attention of party chief Lalu Prasad who rewarded her with a berth in the Upper House of the Bihar legislature.
Reports said Munni literally ran into a panic when a gypsy reached her rented house to pick her up last evening. “Tang ke bulwaye…ham to dar gaye the lekin ek kapda-dhonewali ko etna bada gift diye (He sent me a vehicle to carry me. Initially, I panicked, but later I found he has given a poor person like me such a big reward),” the woman said.
Stating that she can’t express her happiness in words, she said the RJD had been working for the welfare of common men but its opponents projected it as indulging in “Parivarvad” (family rule). Earlier, Prasad had sent stone-breaker Bhagwatiya Devi to the Lok Sabha, she recalled. She said she would raise the issue of price rise, unemployment, etc in the House.
Similarly, the JD-U headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar has honoured two grassroots leaders, namely Anil Hegde and Khiru Mahato, by nominating them to the Rajya Sabha, instead of opting for political heavyweights or crorepatis this time. The first seat had fallen vacant due to the death of business tycoon Mahendra Prasad, more popular as King Mahendra, who was said to be the richest Indian MP. Prasad owned two pharmaceutical companies—Aristo Pharmaceuticals and Mapra Laboratories Pvt Ltd.