Manjhi: Nitish made me CM for his own selfish motives

Vishal Dahiya

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Allegations are flying thick and fast as the Bihar polling dates are approaching. Hindustani Awam Morcha’s (HAM) Jitan Ram Manjhi is mincing no words to attack his one-time Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar. Manjhi’s HAM is now part of the NDA alliance and has managed to bag a crucial 20 seats to contest from. The Mahadalit leader, who was also the Chief Minister of the state for a while, speaks to Rajya Sabha TV’s Vishal Dahiya on why he left the JD(U) and what brought him closer to the BJP.

Here are some excerpts:

What are the reasons that made you leave the party that made you the Chief Minister of Bihar? And now you’ve joined hands with the Opposition?

This is not about joining hands with the Opposition. This is about ill-treating people from lower castes. I did not ask for the CM’s post. Nitish made me CM for his own selfish motives. Nitish thought that because I belonged to the Scheduled Caste, I could be influenced easily and could be moulded whichever way he wanted. Nitish only wanted to save his image by using my name.

You are a major representative of the Mahadalits. Your moving out of the JD(U) must have been a big jolt for Nitish Kumar?

I would not say that I only represent the Mahadalits. I am committed to working for the poor and the underprivileged. And I am here to fight for their rights.

If you say you are working for the dalits, why are they contesting only from the 6 reserved seats? Why not more?

I agree that I acted out of fear & did not allot them more seats. I was scared of taking that risk. But I am aware that I cannot work alone if I have to take on the Grand Alliance, which is why I joined the NDA alliance.

Are you satisfied with the 20 seats that you have been given by the NDA?

I had given unconditional support to the NDA. I did not demand any specific number of seats. I am only working for the poor. Everyone is saying that the NDA alliance has become stronger after I gave them my support.

(You can watch the entire interview at 10.30 pm on Friday only on Rajya Sabha TV)