Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday said politicians like him tended to gloss over corruption by powerful middlemen in the implementation of schemes for the poor and minorities for the sake of votes.
Asking the media to highlight “dishonesty” in the execution of programmes for the downtrodden, Manjhi said, “I know politicians will abuse me for this candid admission . . . but this is true and I am no exception.”
“We politician know that benefits of many a welfare scheme for the SC, ST and minorities are not reaching the poor because powerful middlemen are siphoning off the money. But we tend to gloss over it for the sake of votes of the swindlers on considerations of caste, creed and money,” he said addressing a function marking the National Press Day.
“Hum gadde me gir rahe hai aise me press ko age anna chaiye aur hame sahi rashte par chalane par badhya karna chahiye (We politician are falling in trench and in such condition media shall come forward and force us to move of right path),” he said exhorting the press to be guided by “professionalism” and not perform the duty merely as a job.
“If you come out with news that some SC, ST or minorities- dominated village does not have road connectivity, I promise you to get the road there in 15 days,” he told reporters, blaming the situation on use of money and role of caste and religion in election.
Manjhi narrated an interesting tale as to how he did not act against a mukhiya (village headman) belonging to the powerful yadav caste at Mahkar village in Gaya district who had unleashed a reign of terror on his dalit castemen.
“One of my villageman Lalji Manjhi came to me and complained that the powerful yadav mukhiya has taken away his land at a throwaway price and after that trying to sexually harass his family. Despite being a MLA I did not act against the mukhiya for fear of losing 50,000 votes of yadav,” he said.
“When I lost Assembly election in 1990 people was amused seeing me laughing when my other caste men were feeling sorry for me. After much prodding I told them I am laughing because I think I lost because I had not helped Lalji Manjhi against the yadav mukhiya for fear of losing votes,” he said.
“It is an accepted fact that politician do not work for people who do not vote for them. But, I do not believe in this and is not guided by such consideration,” he said. Continuing with his frank admission, Manjhi said schemes were run in the name of poor and christened after great personalities hailing from weaker sections, but the benefits of them seldom reach them.
“Politicians know this fully well, but fail to act. Moreover, nobody comes forward as witness to such corruption in the execution of programmes like Indira Awas yojna and others,” he said.
“Like in the eyes of law no action can be taken without evidence, we also cannot proceed against some one without witness,” the CM said.
“The execution of schemes for SC, ST and minorities should have been run in a speed of 120 km per hour, but it’s not moving at a speed of 15-20 km/hour,” he said.