PATNA: Bihar unit JD(U) president Bashistha Narain Singh on Sunday made it clear that Nitish Kumar was the party’s supreme leader, while Jitan Ram Manjhi was only the Chief Minister of the state. He also said Manjhi would continue as CM till the next Assembly elections.
Narain’s assertion follows Manjhi’s recent statements that exhibited his larger political ambitions and also created embarrassment to the party. The CM, however, put up a brave face. “Despite criticism, I speak independently,” he said addressing a meeting at Gaya.
The question regarding political equations between Manjhi and Nitish, who only four months ago handpicked the former as his successor, became apparent after both of them were not seen together at any public function. It appears that Nitish is maintaining a distance from Manjhi, by avoiding the events the latter attends. He had kept Manjhi away from the meeting of party office bearers that was called after the formation of new political alignment in the state. Also, the CM wasn’t invited to the party’s recent sit-in on October 20, to press the Centre for granting special status category to Bihar. The public insult came when Nitish boycotted a function organised to mark the 127th birth anniversary of first Bihar CM Shri Krishna Singh.
Defending Nitish, party spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said, “Nitishji normally avoids government programmes. It is his private decision to attend any function.”
Political observers feel that in the election year Manjhi would be a tough nut to crack, as he is trying to mobilise Dalit voters behind him.