Rajat Sharma


AKB Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has landed in a fresh controversy by using undignified language against his predecessor Jitan Ram Manjhi inside the assembly. Two days ago, Nitish had insulted women in Bihar assembly when he indulged in graphic description of sexual intercourse. On Thursday, when the House was discussing the bills to raise the reservation cap to 65 per cent in jobs and education, 80-year-old Manjhi had questioned the caste survey data relating to Mahadalit communities. Manjhi belongs to the extremely backward Musahar caste in Bihar. An enraged Nitish Kumar stood up and took exception to the Speaker allowing Manjhi to participate in the debate. Nitish said, “Isko koi sense hai?… Who made you the CM? This man has no sense, no idea. It was my stupidity that I made him the CM.” Pointing towards BJP benches, Nitish Kumar went on, “He is now with you, because he wants to become Governor. Make him the Governor. His family members also do not care for him. His community members are also upset with him. He was earlier in Congress. He is good for nothing.” For nearly three minutes, the chief minister berated his predecessor in an undignified manner. Manjhi, while taking part in the debate, had remarked, “it seems the caste census was mere paperwork, those who really deserve reservation will not get justice from these statistics….there is a provision to review reservation quota after every ten years..the government should find out whether caste groups are really getting the benefit of reservation or not…merely raising the quota cap will not do”. Nitish Kumar then exploded in anger and started berating Manjhi. He described him as insane and senseless. It was Manjhi’s greatness that he did not respond rudely, and left the House. By then, there was uproar inside the House. BJP MLAs started protesting and alleged that the CM has insulted a Mahadalit leader. Manjhi later told reporters, “I can’t believe that this is the same Nitish Kumar, whom I knew ten years ago. I feel sad hearing him use such words. Nitish is not an ordinary man, he is the head of our state, and a chief minister has insulted a former CM using derogatory language. I think the chief minister has lost his mental balance and he needs treatment.” The manner in which Nitish Kumar lost his cool inside the assembly was shameful and undignified. He not only insulted Manjhi, but also the Speaker and the House, and brought a bad name to the chief minister’s post. Nitish Kumar was speaking as if he was a moneylender of yore berating a poor man from a lower caste for not repaying a loan. Both the ruling and opposition members were stunned by Nitish’s outburst. Even the Speaker and other ministers tried to cool him down, but Nitish Kumar continued with his tirade. When the controversy spiralled, deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav reacted. He said, the chief minister has not given any anti-Dalit statement. “I was present there. No Dalit leader was insulted”, he said. Tejashwi said, the state government has taken a historic step by getting the bills relating to increasing reservation limit in both jobs and education passed. Tejashwi alleged that BJP wants this achievement must not reach the common people, and that is why it is raking up an unnecessary issue. Even Tejashwi Yadav knows, the manner in which Nitish spoke was highly undignified. He is the deputy chief minister, and defending his CM is his political compulsion. But to defend what Nitish did is, in itself, a shameful thing. Nitish’s attitude goes againt the grain of our tradition, culture and democratic dignity. It violates the dignity of the chair of chief minister. Jitan Ram Manjhi is not only a Mahadalit, he is older than Nitish Kumar in age, and his political experience is more compared to that of Nitish. The chief minister should have respected Manjhi’s age. As far as Manjhi being made the CM is concerned, Nitish probably forgot that Manjhi has won more elections than Nitish. Manjhi was first elected MLA in 1980. He was then made a minister. Nitish Kumar was first elected MLA in 1985. When Nitish was a legislator, Manjhi was working as a minister. Manjhi was minister in three Congress governments. He was also a minister in the governments headed by Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi. He was a minister in Nitish’s government. He never betrayed any of his leaders. On the contrary, Nitish’s entire political career has been a history of political betrayals. He first betrayed Lalu Prasad, then George Fernandes and Sharad Yadav, became CM with BJP support, then did a ‘palti’ (somersault), again became the CM with Lalu’s support, then made another somersault and joined BJP camp, and now he has again joined Lalu’s camp. It is not for nothing that Tejashwi once took a jibe at him by naming him ‘paltu chacha’ (an uncle who does somersaults). Therefore, Nitish has no right to berate another leader and say that he is hungry for power and position. As far as installing Manjhi as CM is concerned, it was Nitish’s political game, a drama, in which Manjhi became a pawn. Nitish wanted sympathy and votes from Dalits and therefore handed over the CM’s chair to Manjhi. Once his work was over, he sidelined and himself became the CM. This has been Nitish Kumar’s political character throughout his career. Lalu Prasad is on record of having said, in local lingo, that Nitish has “even teeth inside his belly and he can betray anybody”. Such things happen in politics, and every time Nitish got a fresh lease of life. But, in the last two days, Nitish Kumar has broken all limits of dignity. The public humiliation of Jitan Ram Manjhi inside the assembly, clearly indicates that Nitish has lost his mental balance. How can he insult a Mahadalit, a former CM, an old man and a leader senior to him? If Nitish cannot protect the dignity of his chair, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was instrumental in making Nitish CM, must think about Nitish’s actions. Maybe Nitish may say tomorrow that he made a mistake and may seek forgiveness, but if he does that, it will only be a façade. He insulted womanhood on Tuesday, and then went around town apologizing with folded hands on Wednesday. On Thursday, he insulted a senior Dalit leader. Nitish Kumar has been chief minister of Bihar for nearly 18 years. In the last three days, he has crossed all limits of dignity. His acts have damaged his public image. Such action is neither good in the interest of Bihar, nor for Lalu Prasad’s RJD. If Nitish has lost his mental balance and he is not in his senses, handing over the reins in the hands of such a deranged man is dangerous. If Nitish Kumar is in his senses, and is using such crude language, then it is all the more dangerous. Such a person does not deserve to remain as chief minister of Bihar. Lalu Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav must think, how long can they carry Nitish’s burden and keep him in the CM’s chair. How long will they allow Nitish’s government to continue for their political interests?

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