Trending at 70: Former Bihar CM Manjhi logs into social media 'for dalits'
Former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, a reluctant mobile phone user till recently, has taken to technology and social media at the ripe old age of 70. He now has an official Facebook page with a WhatsApp number that his friends, followers and well-wishers can use to interact with him directly and share their ideas and concerns.Updated: Apr 04, 2015 13:46 IST
Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, a reluctant mobile phone user till recently, has taken to technology and social media like a fish takes to water, say his close aides.
The 70-year-old Manjhi's last public meeting at Darbhanga on April 2, to rally public opinion against what he described as his “unfair ouster” from office in February so that Nitish Kumar could return as chief minister, was webcast live.
His new official Facebook page, created on February 12 and launched with the emotional message, “I am the pain of the crores of Dalits of the country, I am Jitan Ram Manjhi”, already has more than 16,300 likes.
And he has released on Facebook a WhatsApp number that his friends, followers and well-wishers can use to interact with him directly and share their ideas and concerns.
But till recently, Manjhi was not even known to use mobile phones. The first time a colleague spotted him carrying a mobile phone was on March 16.
That was the day Manjhi, who sought to fashion an image as a protector of Dalit rights during his nine months as chief minister, held the first meeting of his campaign to mobilise public opinion against his ouster from office.
"I was surprised as even though Manjhiji was often given mobile phones to speak to someone or the other during his chief ministerial tenure, never before had I seen him carry one," said Nitish Mishra, a close associate of Manjhi.
Manjhi, who resigned as chief minister on February 20 because he did not have the numbers to face a trial of strength in the Bihar assembly, had even told his colleagues he was not a “gadgets person”.
Among the latest postings on Manjhi’s Facebook page is an exhortation to the poor to issue a “show cause” notice to Nitish Kumar and “dismiss” him in the assembly polls due in October.
"The likes for this page are quite some distance behind the more than 5.44 lakh likes for chief minister Nitish Kumar's official Facebook page. But we are less than two months old and on our way," said a member of the team that handles Manjhi's social media interactions.
This team has brought about Manjhi's transformation from an old school politician to a technology-savvy leader.
The team operates out of a “war room” at 1, Aney Marg in Patna, the official residence of the Bihar chief minister which Manjhi has refused to vacate even after ceasing to hold the post. The logistics of the team is handled by Manjhi's son and political heir apparent, Santosh Suman.