Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, facing attacks from his own party colleagues over his assertive style of functioning, hit out at his detractors on Friday, stating that he never feared calling a spade a spade and would congtinue to do so whether he remained on the hot seat or not.
Manjhi drew an allegory of a bird who advised a monkey to make nests to protect itself from rain, but the latter destroyed the nest.
"When monkeys destroy nests, birds dont know what to expect next. I do not know when I will be thrown out of my nest," he said.
That was not all. The chief minister also dubbed the section of erich and the influential'within the government and outside, as eMangurs' (carnivorous catfishes), while drawing a parallel as to how the powerful thrive by depriving the poor of their due rights.
Addressing the first lecture series on the eve of birth anniversary of former chief minister Karpoori Thakur at the legislative council auditorium, Manjhi in his hour-long speech underlined his agenda of empowering the poor and checking pilferage within the government, even as he took oblique potshots at JD(U) strongman Nitish Kumar's loyalists, including senior ministers.
"Now, when I have started plugging the loopholes in awarding contracts and cut expenses, some big fishes are getting restless. See, how they are holding meetings and sittings," he said, inferring to the recent meeting of senior ministers held at food minister Shyam Rajak's residence last Tuesday. The ministers, including planning minister P K Shahi and road construction minister Rajiv Ranjan alias Lallan Singh, had opposed Manjhi's style of functioning.
Paying tributes to Karppori Thakur, Manjhi recalled how the former chief minister, fondly called 'Jan Nayak' for his mass appeal, was a man of simplicity and dedicated his life for empowerment of the downtrodden and oppressed sections.
Manjhi also stressed that poverty was the biggest impediment in uplifting the scheduled castes and backward sections but exhorted them to take to education so that they could compete with others.
In fact, the chief minister said he had long felt that there was need to give more incentives to students from weakers sections so that they could study in premier schools along with children from affluent homes. They should be admitted to jobs on merit so that reservation system can be slowly discontinued.
“Of course, we still need reservations to protect the interests of weaker sections. But, there is need to give more encouragement to students from poorer sections so that they become self-reliant,” he said.
The chief minister also tried to clarify that he was not a supporter of Maoists as it was portrayed for his observation that “levy collection by extremists was justfified”, a point which had raised many an eyebrow in political circles.
“The big question is why are Maoists collecting levy and why is Maoism growing. This is because of inequitable development and the tendency among contractors to inflate work estimates and pocket huge profit,” he said.
Earlier, the lecture series organised by Karpoori Thakur foundation headed by industries minister Bhim Singh was addressed by chairman of the state council Awadesh Narayan Singh, MLC, Ram Bachan Rai and Uday Kanat Choudhary, MLC.
They all praised the efforts being taken by the chief minister for economic empowerment of the poor and also demanded that reservation policy should be followed in awarding gover nment contracts so that contractors from scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, EBC and backward classes could benefit economically.
“Every year Rs. 40,000 crore of contarcts are awarded of which 10% is contractors’ profit. That way, contractors earn Rs. 4,000 crore. Why isn’t there reservation in this sector?” they said.