As he pursues a markedly pro-Dalit agenda to move out of the shadow of his predecessor Nitish Kumar, Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi is ‘doing a Mayawati’ to control the levers of power.
Following the footsteps of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Manjhi has been placing Dalits in key administrative positions to consolidate his position as CM.
Manjhi has already appointed at least a dozen Dalit IAS and IPS officers to crucial positions in order to obtain de facto command over the state administration. In doing so, Manjhi has replaced key Nitish officers with his own men.
“Manjhi is pursuing the Dalits-have-numbers-will-rule model of BSP founder Kanshi Ram. Having Dalit officers in key positions is crucial to his agenda,” said PK Sinha, ex-chief of Bihar gazetted officers’ association.
Sources in the state bureaucracy said these postings had given Manjhi control over the police, and are critical for him to ‘control’ Bihar. He also has taken a firm grip over the administration of Patna district, which covers the state capital and seat of the state administration.
Manjhi voiced his keenness to deliver in Jehanabad on Saturday, saying it was important for him to succeed, as his failure would make it seem that the downtrodden could not rule.
“He has ushered Dalit consciousness in Bihar like no other leader. Dalits are behind him and look upon him as their hope,” said Uday Manjhi, chairman of Bihar mahadalit commission.