PATNA: Amid reports that Jitan Ram Manjhi was under pressure to quit, the Bihar Chief Minister today found an unlikely supporter in Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan who said Manjhi was never given freedom by his predecessor Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad to stamp his authority on the government.
"Manjhi was never given freedom by his predecessor Nitish Kumar and the RJD supremo Lalu Prasad to stamp his authority on the government and take decision on the development and law and order fronts as a result of which Bihar has been gripped with a 'constitutional crisis' due to rapid deterioration of the law and order situation," he said.
The Union Food Minister expressed his views while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the 29th meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC) here.
The law and order situation has turned from bad to worse and it appeared that there was no government worth its salt in place in Bihar, Paswan said, but interestingly added that Manjhi was not responsible for all this mess as he has not been allowed to take decision in independent manner.
In fact, Nitish and Lalu should be held squarely responsible for deteriorating law and order situation and lack of development in Bihar as both have been guilty of pulling the chief minister in different direction, the Union Minister said and sympathised with the chief minister for his plight.
He went as far as to allege that Nitish had made Manjhi his successor thinking that he (CM) will be a 'puppet' at his command, but things soured as the latter came of his predecessor's shadow and started taking his own decisions.
Expressing solidarity with the 'mahadalit' chief minister, the LJP supremo said that neither he nor his party had any complaints with Manjhi, who was like a brother to him given their identical social background and vowed to stood by the embattled chief minister despite not having MLAs in the state Legislative Assembly.
"We extend moral support to Manjhi," he said.
Amid heightening speculation that the JD(U) leadership may remove Manjhi to clear decks for his predecessor to take over reins of his party anytime, Paswan said that as far as he was concerned the Chief Minister cannot be removed as such a situation will cause a split in the ruling party.
"Manjhi ko koi nahin hata sakta hai (nobody can remove Manjhi," the Union minister thundered and said that in such an eventuality the JD(U) will split.
Describing the ongoing hectic parleys among the top JD(U) leaders on the fate of the chief minister as a game of cat and mouse, Paswan asked the senior JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar to stop 'nautanki' (drama) and take whatever decision in one go.
On asked whether the NDA would woo Manjhi to engineer split in the JD(U) for electoral benefits in Bihar, Paswan said that he was not in a position to say anything in this regard.
When asked for his views about corruption charge against Manjhi due to frequent transfer and posting of officials, he said that if there were such allegations against him then it should be probed.
Apparently with an eye of sizable Dalit voters, Paswan persisted with allegation that Manjhi was being humiliated by Nitish and Lalu as he comes from a mahadalit community.
"Do you think that a chief minister of any other caste would have been humiliated in such a manner?" the LJP supremo asked.
On the Delhi Assembly polls, Paswan, who actively campaigned for the BJP candidates, said that with the campaign over it was for the voters to decide.