Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Thursday raised questions over incumbent Nitish Kumar’s “zero-tolerance model” towards graft asking if he was trying to “save his own post” by not acting against his deputy Tejashwi Yadav. “Nitishji talks about zero-tolerance model in Bihar, but he doesn’t take action just so that he can save his post and the Grand Alliance. Then isn’t that model a farce?” the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader asked. “Tejashwi, I believe, should have resigned after the corruption charge and lodging of an FIR. But, when he didn’t, the CM should have sacked and dismissed him. But, Nitishji is trying to find a middle ground,” he said, when asked by a few reporters, if the deputy chief minister should have resigned. He was talking to the press here ahead of a national conference of his party workers scheduled on Saturday at the Talkatora Stadium in Delhi.
Tejashwi has termed the FIR, lodged in connection with a land-for-hotels case, “farzi” (fake) and part of a “political vendetta”.
To a question on the condition of the Grand Alliance in Bihar, Manjhi alleged, “The Dalits and women are being attacked and crime cases are rising. What is happening in Bihar is unfortunate.”
“Though I do not want anarchy in the state. In my opinion, if the alliance splits, the BJP should consider giving outside support to the JD(U). But then, it is also for the BJP’s state unit to consider,” he said.
Manjhi, a Dalit leader, was made the Bihar chief minister for nine months, starting May 2014, before being having a fallout with Kumar and ultimately being expelled from the JD (U).
He later formed the Hindustani Awam Morcha, which is now an ally of the BJP.
“During my nine-month-rule as the chief minister, we worked for all sections of the society, for women and Dalits. Our aim was bringing about systemic change (‘vywastha parivartan’) and not just administrative change (‘satta parivartan’). But, unfortunately, some people just want to have administrative change,” he said.
Manjhi outlined various issues that the party will raise during the Saturday’s conference and said, “For the country’s development, we demand that agriculture be accorded an industry status, so that farmers can sell their crops at appropriate market prices.”
He also emphasised that “common schooling system” needs to be developed so that an ethos of equality can be built.
Manjhi said if the government education is done through common schooling system, where people of all strata study together, then the “bogey of reservation” can also be dealt with.
“We believe, as of now, the reservation system should be based on economic status and not seen on caste lines. So, if someone, belonging to an upper caste, is poor, we feel, he should also benefit from it,” he said.