UNION MINISTER for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi has asked officials in her Lok Sabha constituency of Pilibhit to follow the example of Congress President Sonia Gandhi in order to check corruption in the education department.
She cited the example during a meeting of the district vigilance committee in Pilibhit on Saturday, when an official pointed out that he did not have the authority to act against corrupt bureaucrats. At this, Maneka narrated a story of how Sonia had taken action to stop misuse of her name.
According to Maneka, a relative of Sonia once opened a shop and started asking people to visit as he was related to the Congress leader. To stop this, Sonia put out advertisements in newspapers and appealed to people to not visit that person.
The story came up during a discussion on corruption in schools. The Union minister had directed action in connection with complaints that certain schools, which had taken recognition for junior standard classes, were running classes for higher standards as well.
When she asked Basic Siksha Adhikari (BSA) Ambrish Kumar to take action against “babus” who were allegedly taking bribes to give recognition to such schools, Kumar said he did not have the authority to do so, and that only senior officers of the rank of Additional Director and Joint Director were eligible to take action against “babus”.
It was then that Maneka cited Sonia Gandhi’s story.
“I want you to do the same. Put out an advertisement that those who want recognition should directly come to you. Put up a notice in your office, too. We will order a Vigilance inquiry on the babus,” Maneka told Kumar. The minister also asked officials to install CCTV cameras in their offices.
Kumar said, “When the Union minister asked me to take action, I told her I had no authority to take action against the babus against whom complaints were received. Now, following the minister’s directives, notices will be displayed asking people to directly contact me to seek recognition of their schools. CCTV cameras will be installed in office rooms, too.”
He refused to comment on the example of Sonia cited by Maneka.
However, Pilibhit District Magistrate Masoom Ali Sarwar confirmed to The Indian Express that Maneka had indeed cited Sonia’s example at the meeting.
“The minister said that those seeking recognition for schools should directly approach the BSA or a senior authority like the district magistrate. The administration will put up notices in this regard,” he said.
Maneka was in her Lok Sabha constituency to attend programmes and meetings with district officials, bank officials and farmers regarding schemes run by the Centre.
On Friday, she had held a meeting with village pradhans and locals under ‘Gramoday se Bharat Uday Abhiyan’ and lay the foundation for a road project.
The following day, she attended several meetings with members of Vigilance committees and MSMEs and distributed wheelchairs to the differently abled. She also attended a mass marriage in Pilibhit before leaving for Delhi on Sunday.