Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has sought to dismiss the controversy surrounding his earlier statement that even he was forced to give bribe during the chief ministership of Nitish Kumar to rectify an earlier inflated electricity bill, saying the incident was of an earlier period and the money was given for sweets.
On Tuesday, Manjhi, while addressing rural development officers at a function in Patna, had said that even his predecessor Kumar could not stem corruption despite the pro-development thrust, a comment that prompted the BJP to strike back.
The BJP patted Manjhi for his candid confession that the Nitish Kumar government had failed to control corruption.
"What Jitan Ram Manjhi has said on corruption is the reality in Bihar, but he can't do anything to stem the rot as he is being largely controlled by Nitish Kumar and also RJD president Lalu Prasad, who is considered to be the epitome of corruption," senior BJP leader and former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi had said.
Arch-rivals RJD and the JD(U) have joined hands to stop the BJP in the assembly by-polls in the state.
But, on Thursday, during an election rally in Mohania (Sasaram), Manjhi said that the incident he had talked about was of 1994, when the RJD, now an ally, was in power in the state. “Lalu Prasad was at the helm and I was myself a member of the RJD then,” he added.
Manjhi said, “I had given Rs. 5,000 to my son for payment of electricity bill of my house in Gaya. He returned Rs. 3,300 to me. When I saw that the electricity bill was of Rs. 1500 only, I asked him for the remaining amount. It was then that my son told me that he had given the money to the officials for sweets for taking pains to trace the old bill.”