Ex-Speaker Uday dilutes attack on Nitish as Dalit leader Manjhi steps in to back CM
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Ex-Speaker Uday dilutes attack on Nitish as Dalit leader Manjhi steps in to back CM

Uday Narayan Choudhary’s U-turn came a day after Bihar JD (U) leadership took a strong note of his, and party general secretary Shyam Rajak’s, remark that the chief minister was “no longer focused on Dalit welfare”.

patna Updated: Nov 02, 2017 21:09 IST
Anil Kumar
Anil Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Uday Narayan Choudhary,Jitan Ram Manjhi,Nitish Kumar
AT LOGGERHEADS: Dalit leaders Uday Narayan Choudhary (left) and Jitan Ram Manjhi. (File photo)

Former Bihar assembly speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary on Thursday tried to make amends for his statement questioning state government’s intent on quota policy for Dalits, saying, the benefits for the marginalized classes were shrinking because of the wrong policies of the Centre.

“It is the Centre and not Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who is ignoring the claims of marginalized sections in ensuring proper quota for their adequate representation in the system,” Choudhary said, in an apparent bid to douse the fire set of by his earlier outburst.

His U-turn on the issue came a day after state JD (U) leadership took a strong note of his and party general secretary Shyam Rajak’s remark that the chief minister was “no longer focused on Dalit welfare” and warned the BJP would continue to “ill-treat” him, while opposing the demand for a review of the reservation policy in the state.

Party sources allege that the two leaders were feeling sidelined and had chosen the Dalit issue—a cause dear to Nitish Kumar—for venting their ire on the sensitive issue to corner the leadership into taking cognizance of their presence.

In an unexpected turn of events, former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular chief Jitan Ram Manjhi came out in full support of Kumar, saying, “he is a real benefactor of Dalits and has done everything to ensure their honour, dignity and participation in the development process.”

Manjhi was also scathing in his attack on the duo, who, he said, had only used Dalits for their political survival. Terming them as “principal conspirators” in his (Manjhi’s) removal from chief minister’s chair (in February 2015), he said, “Choudhary seems to be put off by my growing proximity with Kumar.”

The signs of a thaw in the “bitter and acrimonious” relationship between Kumar and Manjhi, were in full play when the chief minister shared dais with the HAM-S chief at his native village at Mahkar and launched various development schemes. Manjhi, on his part, acknowledged Nitish’s role for his elevation to the top post.

Manjhi was made CM when Nitish resigned following his JD (U)’s defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll. Later’s the two leaders fell out and a reluctant Manjhi had to resign in February 2015 after realising he did not have the numbers to win a confidence vote ordered by the Governor.

Choudhary and Rajak had questioned the silence of the state government over the alleged move of the centre to tweak admission policy in technical institutions wherein Dalit and OBC students could be admitted only under their respective categories. Earlier, meritorious among them found their way in general category.

As the heat mounted, Choudhary, while talking to news agency ANI, said, “the question was never about Kumar as he is not responsible for increasing or decreasing the quota. He is our leader, and will be our leader. But what can he do when reservation in promotion, though a big setback for Dalits, tribals and OBC, is being scrapped? It is for the Central government to pass a bill in this regard.”

Choudhary said the NDA government was trying to drag public attention away from the major issues like the upliftment of the poor, rights of backward classes, malnutrition and is busy with in cow vigilantism and Ram Temple, stoking speculations that a section of the JD (U) was not comfortable with the developments.

But Manjhi seemed unimpressed. “Why are they raising the issue now and not when they were in power? Does that mean that post was more important than issues or is it the other way round,” asked the wily politician, whose many cabinet decisions were later regularized when Kumar was back at the helm.

The storm is unlikely to settle down soon as Wednesday’s cabinet decision to implement quota policy in the recruitment of outsourced manpower for government work, by private agencies, has been opposed by senior BJP leader CP Thakur.

First Published: Nov 02, 2017 21:09 IST