Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday said RJD chief Lalu Prasad was better leader than chief minister Nitish Kumar, even though the latter had spent hundreds of crores of public money on his image building at the international level.
Explaining, Manjhi said Kumar relied in pomp and show instead of development to shore up his image, while Prasad spearheaded a revolution to give voice to oppressed sections of the society in nineties as chief minister.
"On the other hand, Kumar splurged millions on construction of museum, convention centre and other institutions to draw international attention and thereby catapult himself at the national political mainstream. However, the latter miserably failed in his bid," said Manjhi.
Talking to media persons about his protest against the government''s decisions to annul 34 cabinet decisions taken by him in the ''public interest'', Manjhi said the day-long fast observed by leaders association with him under the banner of newly formed Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) would herald beginning of the drive to expose anti-people façade of the Nitish Kumar government.
"It will be followed by dharna at the divisional level to protest the annulment of pro-people decisions. It will begin at Muzaffarpur on March 16 and culminate as a rally at Gandhi Maidan on April 20, which will be attended by more than five lakh people. A new political outfit will be floated to contest the elections at the Gandhi Maidan rally," he said.
Ruling out any pre-poll pact, Manjhi said he had identified 125 seats where his party had the potential to win. "There will be no pre-poll alliance. However, door is always open for post-poll tie-up," he said, adding that his party would not mind aligning with the BJP as it had managed to do away with ''communal'' kind of politics.
Rubbishing Kumar''s contentions that the cabinet decisions were in conformity to laid down norms, Manjhi said the cabinet had the power to take decisions without proper agenda. "This is neither illegal nor unconventional," he said, adding additional fund to implement the decisions could be managed by cutting down wasteful expenditures on constructions like Bihar Museum, international convention centre, new building for Legislative Assembly, new residences for legislators, etc." he said, adding that work on them could be taken up later.
Attributing his opposition to corrupt practices as reasons for toppling of his government, Manjhi alleged that a rule of anarchy had gripped the state once again. "DMs and SPs are being threatened with shunting posting in the secretariat if they refused to pay Rs 40 to 50 lakh. About 10 per cent of the cost of projects was going to contractors as benefits. This amounted to Rs 4,000 crore per annum. This amount of money, if checked, could benefit the people of deprived sections," he said.
Decisions to pay the 13-month salary to policemen upto the ranks of inspectors, increase in allowances of homeguards, move to regularise services of contractual teachers, reservation of SC, ST and other weaker sections in government contract work, etc, were some of the decisions, which were scrapped by the government after Kumar took over as the chief minister.
Manjhi, who ruled the state as JD(U) chief minister for nine months, had to resign on February 20 after he failed to garner majority support in the assembly in the face of JD(U)''s insistence to replace him with Kumar.