Foot-in-mouth statements mar Manjhi's tenure

Foot-in-mouth statements mar Manjhi's tenure

When a “low-profile” Jitan Ram Manjhi took over as the Chief Minister of Bihar after Nitish Kumar demitted office in May taking moral responsibility for the JD(U)’s drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections, it was believed that Manjhi was made CM only to implement Nitish’s orders.

But the first 100 days of Manjhi at office show he has tried to emerge out of Nitish’s shadows and position himself as an independent leader capable of taking decisions on his own. However, in the process, he has caused huge embarrassment to the party and its leadership.

For instance, his stand on corruption. “Nitish Kumar may have established the rule of law in Bihar and ushered in major development works. But he failed on one front – to check corruption,” the chief minister had said publicly and then narrated an incident saying how he too had to pay bribe to get his work done. A day later, however, Manjhi made a U-turn and said he never bribed anyone.  

This ruffled feathers within the top JD(U) leadership. “Manjhi should have known that Nitishji always showed zero tolerance towards corruption. In fact, when Nitishji won for the second consecutive time in 2010, he waged a war against corruption. As a consequence, houses of corrupt officers were seized and schools opened for poor children in the confiscated premises,” said a senior JD(U) legislator.

Another faux pas by Manjhi was when he turned a blind eye towards his son who was caught from a Bodh Gaya hotel with a woman cop. “What’s wrong if two consenting adults want to do something as per their wish,” he said, trying to condone his son’s act even as the BJP demanded his scalp.

In yet another row, Manjhi last week told a gathering that small traders can be allowed to indulge in black-marketing as it helps them prosper. “Our aim should be to catch the big fish, not the small traders, who commit petty offence to eke out their living,” he said at a public function, making many wonder whether the “too outspoken” chief minister was becoming a liability for his party by his foot-in-mouth statements. 

Though the Congress, RJD and the JD(U) have refrained from slamming Manjhi (he has served in all the three parties in his 30-year-long political career), senior RJD leader and former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said, “Manjhi should not issue such statements which lower the dignity of the chief minister.”

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