By Mayank Jain:
Bihar is the fastest growing major state of India, with a 10% plus growth rate in recent years and a renewed interest of the industry in setting up plants in the state which has been stereotyped as ‘backward’ for a long time. The state witnesses a critical juncture in the making of its history and future as the incumbent CM Nitish Kumar of JD (U) has decided to resign on moral grounds after the BJP swept the state in Lok Sabha Polls.
The appointment of the next CM though, is already underway and no less interesting. The successor to Nitish Kumar is Jitan Ram Manjhi, a dalit leader handpicked by the outgoing CM to succeed him. The 68 year old is a JD(U) MLA from Makhdumpur seat.
He is well seasoned in the political arena as he made his first stint in the Bihar assembly in 1980 on a Congress ticket. He has been elected 6 times so far and also served as SC & ST, Backward Caste and Extremely Backward caste welfare minister in the Nitish regime.
His next jump involved joining RJD in 1990 when he was made the Human Resource Development minister. This couldn’t last for long as he got embroiled in corruption charges and joined the JD(U) in 2005. Mr. Majhi was dropped from Nitish’s cabinet after his corruption charges came to light but he was brought back the same night when he was cleared of the charges.
He is also known for his ‘rat eater’ comments during the 2008 food crises when he called upon the people to start eating rats as they were becoming a cause of food spoilage and hold the same nutrient value as that of a chicken.
Majhi is the current Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare minister of Bihar. He belongs to the Maha Dalit community of Musahars. He holds a clean image of a soft spoken,Â hard working minister who is an embodiment of the perfect rags to riches story. People see him as a tireless worker, working to uplift all as he goes.
His appointment by Nitish Kumar is seen by many as a Dalit Card, played to reap political gains. Nitish Kumar has been trying to appease the community for a long term and the recent loss to BJP in polls only substantiate these claims as the party finds itself in a critical situation and staring right at the assembly polls due in an year.
Nitish Kumar, however has called upon the party to be optimistic for the future as he will still lead the election campaign for the 2015 elections: “I will lead the party in the assembly elections and we’ll form the government. There is no need to be disheartened.”
Opinion: The appointment as Bihar’s CM is a coveted position of authority and responsibility for Mr. Manjhi and he has to fill in the big shoes of Nitish Kumar who rode a popularity wave for his development agenda and clean image. The job in front of him right now is to not be another leader known for his caste and the minority he represents but completely remove it from the limelight and let his actions speak for the better. Abdul Kalam is one President we know for being a great President not because he was a Muslim leading a Hindu majority nation. It is time for Manjhi to be the leader Bihar needs right now, and just not the one that Bihar recognizes.
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