‘King is naked’ moment for Nitish Kumar

A 12-year old calls the bluff of public education and Prohibition in the state

‘King is naked’ moment for Nitish Kumar
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Ashok Priyadarshi

The chief minister looked amused at the insistence of the 12-year old to have his say. Nitish Kumar was meeting people in his home village in Kalyanbigha (Nalanda) when the precocious class V student wriggled his way to the front, folded his hands and in impeccable Hindi told him, “Sir, Pranam, Sir Padhne ke liye himmat deejiye” (Sir, respect, please enable me to get educated).

As the amused chief minister questioningly looked at district officials accompanying him, the boy informed him that the government school he went to was no good, that his father was alcoholic and was not interested in his education, that he wanted to get admission in a private school. He also claimed that a teacher at the govt school had failed to answer his questions and he would never get educated if he continued there.

It was a searing indictment of Nitish Kumar’s almost 17-year-long term, directly and indirectly, at the helm of the state. A ‘the King is naked’ moment. The urchin was calling the bluff of public education in the state and also telling him that his pet policy of Prohibition had failed.

Nitish Kumar failed the state again by instructing the Deputy Development Commissioner to find out what the boy’s grievances were and redress them. The busy DDC had clearly no time to spare on such errands and while the clip of the conversation went viral on social media and the media descended on the village to interview the boy, who revelled in the limelight and declared that he wanted to become an IAS officer, the state government seemed immobilised.

Sonu’s clarity and articulation, rare even in adults, bemused journalists as well. Many of them couldn’t resist the temptation of asking Sonu questions like what he would do when he becomes an officer, how he would enforce Prohibition etc. The boy, feted in the village and the state for his confidence, held forth willingly enough. Like a consummate politician he would repeat that he did not want money but just admission in a good, private school. In another indictment of the state, the boy had informed the CM that he himself taught other urchins for small sums of money and augmented the family income.

Sonu’s village Neemakol, three kilometers from Nitish Kumar’s ancestral village, has 52 students on the rolls of the government school. There is a Head Master who rarely attends the school and three other teachers. Deepak Kumar, the teacher named by Sonu, informs that while Sonu’s name is there on the roll, he actually studied in some private school. This is also fairly common in the state with students having midday meals in government schools and attending classes in private schools. The arrangement suits everybody.


Former Deputy chief minister Sushil Modi visited Neemakol and assured the boy that he would arrange for Rupees two thousand every month for his education. The Sonu Sood Foundation in Mumbai tweeted that it had arranged for Sonu to study in a private school at Bihta near Patna. The boy himself is keen to study either in a Navodaya school or in a Sainik school. Other assurances too have been pouring in on social media but the core issue of government schools, ill-trained teachers and the havoc being wrought by illicit liquor trade remain unaddressed.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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