About 2,400 years after Chandra Gupta Maurya ruled his vast empire from this city by the Ganga, each middle-rung IAS officer in Bihar nurtures the secret ambition of becoming its DM. If IAS officers are emperors in this feudal heartland, then the Patna DM is the Maurya among them.
It was across the Ganga from Patna, in Vaishali, that the first known democratic government in human history was set up. However, as democracy ages in the republic, hardly anyone in Patna can tell you what or who their mayor or district board chairman is. But that’s not the case with the DM, an institution that many condemn as the most retrogressive relic of the colonial system.
Virtually everyone knows who the DM is—traffic signboards have directions to the DM’s Bungalow and the collectorate is among the landmarks in the city. DM, Patna, has immense access to the top levels of political and bureaucratic executive and if talented, an opportunity to prove. She gets call from judges, ministers, MPs. She gets to meet the CM, the chief secretary and all top shots more frequently than other colleagues. And less importantly, perhaps, she gets to stay in one of the costliest real estates of Bihar.
SUDHEER Kumar—the present incumbent—is low profile, unassuming and diligent, but some recent occupants of this coveted chair have made it flamboyant and proved more than mere administrative skills.
Gautam Goswami’s career chart is now well-known. He never lost an opportunity to display his loyalty to the ruling regime. Before him, Rajbala Verma, who served as DM Patna thrice during the RJD regime between 1995-1999, too made her tenure eventful.
Once a rape victim approached Laloo, who entrusted her to Verma. She kept her at the DM’s bungalow and Laloo went to town with the story of her exploiters who had BJP connections. The tailor-made story of social justice took a twist when it turned out that the rape victim was being sexually exploited by several employees of the DM’s bungalow.
CAREER savvy officials have used the Patna posting to get close to the bosses. However, some such as Deepak Prasad and Amit Khare, maintained a low profile, keeping away from public glare.
|As DM of Patna, Rajbala Verma had become part of the Laloo household.
A tough officer, she wept in public seeing the RJD chief being arrested in the fodder case
The office has in the past also represented the best camaraderie that an IAS officer could have had with his colleague in the IPS, with any reference to DM saheb being incomplete without the Patna senior superintendent of police.
Old-timers fondly recall the ‘jodi’ of Raj Kumar Singh and Kishore Kunal. Singh as DM, is remembered for providing the best administration to the people of the city and Kunal shook the entire political establishment by blowing the lid off the infamous ‘Bobby murder case’.
The police officer, with the DM’s support, got the body of Bobby, a woman allegedly raped and murdered by some politicians during the mid-1980s, exhumed. But the case was given a decent burial after the politicians took it away from the city police.
However, Amit Khare thinks Patna is only as much significant as any other city. ‘‘If any one wants to prove his administrative skills, interior backward districts offer much better opportunity. But these days, officers want to be in cushy places. Earlier a DM was an unknown entity but of late due to the media influence, there is a star value that everyone aspires for,’’ says Khare, who first blew the whistle on the fodder scandal during his posting in Chaibasa.