JEHANABAD:Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, contesting from Makhdumpur in Jehanabad district of Bihar as NDA/BJP candidate, but on his own party HAM ticket, has a problem in his own backyard. Not-so-high-profile before Nitish Kumar made and then removed him as CM to reassume the reins of Bihar, Manjhi’s USP has been his Maha-Dalit identity. That’s what made BJP chief Amit Shah usher him into the NDA fold with much fanfare despite an older ally Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s getting upset. Now, it is the Paswan community which may prove to be Manjhi’s undoing. Not to mention the Ravidas, another ‘Mahadalit’ caste, who have their own community man Subedar Das as the RJD candidate. Das is Manjhi’s closest rival. Makhdumpur is a reserved constituency. Against Manjhi and in favour of the RJD candidate, the votes that are stacked are of Yadavas and Pasis, a section of the Kushwahas (represented in NDA by Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha).
What’s more surprising, a section Baniya and forward castes — staunch BJP supporters — too are miffed with Manjhi because of his neglect of civic work in the constituency.
Manjhi has been propped by the BJP as someone who can break Kumar’s equation with the Mahadalits and EBCs (extremely backward communities, created over the last two assembly elections.
Jitan Ram’s deprived Manjhi community in Solhanda, Punahda, Koile, Kumardih and other villages are backing him with great pride. But the neighbours, the better off Paswans are not. The Paswan women are especially are up in arms. With their men working outside, they are left behind struggling to meet ends without much state support, they claim.
However, Manjhi’s position may have improved after PM Narendra Modi’s rally in Jehanabad on Monday. The youth are Modi’s foot soldiers, who are convincing the electorate to vote for the NDA for ‘vikas’.