Ever since Bihar’s big two -Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar – have come together, Chief Minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi may well have reasons to feel that he is “politically irrelevant” despite being the state CM. He himself has said he has little time at his disposal to do something extraordinary for Bihar. But he is not often sure about what line he has to take on some party matters because he has to first face media queries than oarty stalwarts Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav.
But does Manjhi speak straight from the heart without being politically correct like his predecessor Nitish Kumar? Or he has a definite political goal behind his “straightforwardness”. Here is a clue – Manjhi said in an interview to a magazine that if people think being sidha (simple) means being gullible or one who can be taken for granted, one is grossly mistaken. Manjhi, who made it to CM chair more because of being a Mahadalit than because of his exoerience, knows that his only USP is to play ultra dalit politics, something that will suit his politics and also keep catering to Nitish Kumar-developed constituency of Mahadalits, a conglomeration of 21 scheduled castes.
This is why when CM defended his youngest son Praveen Suman for his “date with a married constable” saying “one has right to have a girlfriend”, he also chose to mix it with tinge of dalit politics as he said the Opposition had been targeting his family for being dalits. Manjhi surely is frank but he may well be using his frankness with a purpose to stay news for good or bad reasons.
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Whether it is telling probatuoner BDOs about real truth of “zero tolerance against corruption” policy in Bihar by telling his own experience bribing to curtail inflated power bill or asking dalit youths to marry out if caste to raise their population for more political empowerment, Manjhi has scored with his “straight drive”.
Manjhi knows even Lalu Prasad may not afford to dislike him because OBC-dalit combination is required for much-hyped Mandal consolidation. He also knows he is still in the reckoning for a compromise CM candidate if grand alliance fails to project its CM candidate. Manjhi plays it straight, maybe more because of bigger politicians around him not being too straight. He has already won over the Opposition with “corruption is there” talk. There may not be much about his name but there is definitely a lot about his surname.