Following the backlash over the Bihar government's tradition of handing out gifts to legislators, the Nitish Kumar-led government may now scrap the practise.
The Bihar government courted controversy after the education department handed out microwave ovens to each of the 243 legislators.
While the Nitish Kumar-led government described it as a tradition, the BJP leaders have started returning the gifts. Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushil Kumar Modi said, "Lakhs of school teachers (are) without salary for last four months. Prem Kumar, Mangal Pandey and myself will return gifts like micro oven back to govt (sic)."
Education Minister Ashok Chaudhary said the practise was over two decades old and said that gifts were also given during the BJP's eight-year-long tenure. Defending the gifting of the microwaves - touted to cost Rs 11,000 each - he said:
"It's just a matter of about 30 lakh rupees. Please don't hype it up like this. It's unfair to compare this to other issues like salaries, condition of schools."
"Our MLAs need to travel to their constituencies to inspect mid-day meals. So when they go, they can take the microwave oven with them and heat food and eat".
While Kumar is said to be keen to do away with the practise, the move needs to be cleared by the cabinet.