Patna: The Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) chief, Jitan Ram Manjhi, has come out in defence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has been under attack from NDA ally, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Chirag Paswan.
In an interview with ThePrint Monday, Manjhi, a former chief minister himself, said he had no doubts about Nitish’s intentions to ensure development in the state but added that the problems lay in the implementation of the CM’s policies.
He singled out Prohibition, which Nitish enforced in 2016, and the Har Ghar Nal ka Jal Yojana that promised piped drinking water supply to every household in the state as the policies that faced problems.
“You can’t doubt Nitish Kumar’s intentions but in the liquor ban, police acted against poor people and not the liquor mafia,” he said.
“There is a need for public participation in the implementation of policies. The dowry act has been implemented but everyone still takes dowry. Similarly, the government installed pipes for drinking water. It is now up to the people to see if water is coming or not. Schools have been constructed and it is again for the people to see if teachers are coming or not. How can the chief minister keep track of all that?”
Manjhi further said that despite the problems, Nitish has ensured good governance. “In this government, there is a 10 per cent deficiency in implementation but there is 90 per cent good governance,” he said. “When you compare it with the Lalu regime, before 2005, people worked in fear during the Jungle Raj. Development was zero. Nitish has changed that atmosphere.”
Manjhi’s HAM is a part of the NDA and is contesting in seven seats.
‘Tejashwi should retire Lalu first’
Manjhi also responded to Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav, who said Nitish was showing signs of fatigue and should retire from politics .
“Tejashwi already retired Lalu Prasad (his father and RJD chief) from posters but before speaking about Nitish Kumar, he should retire Lalu who is older than Nitish,” Manjhi said. “Nitishji has energy and he is still young.”
The HAM chief also played down the visible support that Tejashwi has been garnering across the state.
“People will not hand power to such an inexperienced person who fled Bihar during Covid and during the floods,” Manjhi said.
“He also humiliated Raghuvansh Prasad (senior RJD leader who passed away in September). Such an inexperienced person will be a train wreck. I have heard that in Tejashwi’s rallies, a few drunk people sit in front of the dais and shout his name to create the atmosphere.”
On Tejashwi’s 10 lakh government jobs promise, Manjhi said, “Government jobs for 10 lakh people is not possible; Tejashwi is misleading the electorate. Self-employment should be the focus. Everyone can’t get jobs and so self-employment and industry have to be facilitated. This is the only way out. In this tenure, Nitishji will focus on employment through industry and create self-employment opportunities.”
LJP will only divide votes, nothing else
Manjhi also said that the LJP, which is fighting the elections on its own but has not fielded candidates against the BJP, will have no real impact on the elections.
“The LJP outburst began a few months ago,” Manjhi said. “There were some political and administrative aspirations of Chirag Paswan that the chief minister had not fulfilled. That is the reason he is opposing Nitish. But he has no ground; he will only divide votes.”
The HAM chief also dismissed suggestions that the LJP has been propped up by the BJP. “We have no doubt about the BJP’s intentions. The Prime Minister himself has announced that Nitish Kumar will be the chief minister irrespective of whether the BJP gets more seats than the JD(U),” Manjhi said. “Home Minister Amit Shah has also announced this. There is no suspicion that the BJP is playing a double game.”
Manjhi also made it clear that he won’t switch over to the Mahagathbandhan led by RJD after the elections.
“Normally, people go from the opposition fold to the government side. I was the only one who switched from the government to the Mahagathbandhan because Lalu Prasad promised reservation in the private sector and reservation in judiciary,” he said.
“I had demanded a coordination committee in the Mahagathbandhan but no one listened. There are only dictatorships there. I left when I saw Raghuvansh Prasad being humiliated. I will now be with Nitish Kumar, whether in power or in opposition.”