STRIKING A significant note of dissent, senior JD(U) leader and former Bihar Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary said party president and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was “no longer focussed on Dalit welfare”, and warned that the BJP would continue to “ill-treat” him.
“A year ago, the Bihar government did away with the scholarship scheme for Dalits and replaced it with a loan scheme. It is totally unfair. Had there been no scholarship for Scheduled Caste, I would not have reached my position. We played a key role in Nitish Kumar cultivating the Mahadalit constituency, but Nitish no longer has hold over them, as he is no longer focussed on Dalit welfare. Some Dalit welfare schemes are mired in corruption. With the Vigilance booking two serving and two retired IAS officers, it shows how badly Dalit schemes are monitored,” Choudhary told The Indian Express.
Though 29 party leaders supported Nitish’s proposal to rejoin the NDA, senior party leader Bijendra Prasad Yadav and I opposed the move,” said the Mahadalit leader who served as Assembly Speaker for two terms.
Asked if he was criticising Nitish for not being made a minister, Choudhary replied: “I have never targeted any individual. I talk about failure of policies — the state government hardly took any stand when the Centre changed the reservation policy for NIIT. Now, a Dalit or OBC will only get admission in medical colleges within their categories, instead of some of them getting in through general quota.”
Choudhary, who lost to former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi from Imamganj in the last Assembly polls, said the Nitish government would not have survived after the JD(U) split from NDA in June 2013 but for his support. He, however, denied being in touch with RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
Choudhary said he had refrained from criticising the government earlier as he was holding a constitutional post. “But I have been meeting people and getting ground reports that suggests poor or non-implementation of several Dalit welfare schemes. There is a huge backlog in recruitment for Class III and Class IV jobs, both in the central and state government. The central government jobs are being outsourced. Employment in Railways is down from 15 lakh to 13 lakh. The state government is now a partner of NDA, and will toe its line,” he said.
Choudhary also targeted LJP leader and Jamui MP Chirag Paswan and Manjhi for supporting the demand to deny reservation benefits to the creamy layer. “These Dalit leaders are in favour of reviewing reservation, saying that the creamy layer among OBCs and SCs should not get reservation. I dare Chirag Paswan and Manjhi to contest from non-reserved constituencies in the next polls,” he said.
Choudhary, who has formed an apolitical forum, Vanchit Varg Morcha, said he held meetings in several districts under its banner. “Former minister Shyam Rajak has supported my cause. At least a dozen SC leaders have been in touch,” he said.
Asked if it was a pressure tactic to extract political mileage in the name of Dalit solidarity, Choudhary countered: “Even if that is the case, what is wrong with it? We are the ones who were instrumental in cultivating a big Mahadalit constituency for Nitish. We will keep raising Dalit issues. Dalit atrocities have been on the rise. Recently, 82 houses of Dalits were torched in Khagaria, but little was done.”