Sounding confident of winning the trust vote in his government on February 20, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday said he would enter the ring as a “wrestler” without bothering about his win or loss.
“I will enter the ring as a ‘pahalwan’ (wrestler) without bothering how strong is the opponent and whether I will win or lose,” Manjhi told reporters here.
“I’ll make an emotional speech to the legislators that I stand for welfare of the poor and downtrodden of the society. If you agree with me then come along and if I do not get adequate response I’ll quit the CM post,” Manjhi said.
Asked if he was banking on BJP support, Manjhi said “I am standing alone and shall appeal to the legislators of all parties to accept my humble appeal to continue working for the poor and downtrodden.”
Manjhi said “I have not come to politics after selling my land and have to make money for livelihood…I came to politics with an intention of public service.”
On his mentor Nitish Kumar’s repeated allegation of horse trading, Manjhi said “I am poor and a pauper and have no money for horse trading.”
Seeking to turn the tables on his adversaries, Manjhi said “they (Nitish group) are actually indulging in horse trading by taking MLAs to Delhi and keeping them in posh hotel…about Rs 1 lakh was spent on each MLA in this journey.”
Flanked by minister Mahachandra Prasad Singh, his appointed chief whip Rajiv Ranjan and rebel MLA Ravindra Rai; Manjhi said he would once again appeal to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi for secret ballot during confidence vote.
The governor has asked the Speaker to look into two options of lobby division or secret ballot during the trust vote that would take place on the opening day of budget session of Assembly after his speech to joint session of the Bihar legislature.
Manjhi thanked Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi for accepting his prayer to fix the trust vote on February 20.
Unmindful of rivals’ claim that he enjoys support of only 12 MLAs, Manjhi said “hum datte hua hain aur antim tak ladai larte rahenge chahe uska parinam jo ho (I am standing my ground and will fight till the end irrespective of results).”
On the chance of cabinet expansion, Manjhi said if he won the trust vote he would go for the expansion.
In reply to a question that he has been expelled by JD(U) and declared an unattached member in Assembly, Manjhi said he was looking into legal aspect of the issue and would act lawfully.
He denied allegation of trying to break JD(U) saying he did not have that much strength.
Defending several cabinet decisions including free electricity to small farmers owning up to 5 acres of land, he said “my government is not in minority. The cabinet has the right to approve proposals.”
The Manjhi cabinet had on Tuesday approved proposal to provide reservation to SC/ST contractors in government work up to Rs 70 lakh, lowering mandatory attendance from 75 per cent for availing benefits of cycle and uniform among others for school students and a committee to look into the issue of giving reservation to poor among forward castes.
Manjhi said he wanted to do all these works in the interest of the poor and downtrodden but “my hands were tied. Now I am a free man and can do things in the interest of the poor.”