Jitan Ram Manjhi says 'Lord Rama was a fictional character'; stirs a hornet's nest
Jitan Ram Manjhi lamented that the members of Musahar community, the most backward among the downtrodden, were of late lured to worship Hindu God and Goddess.
PATNA: Former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi stirred up a fresh controversy when he refused to consider lord Rama as God and also made derogatory remarks against Brahmin priests.
Manjhi's controversial remarks came at a meeting of the Bhuiyan-Mushahar community held in Patna late on Saturday. Manjhi's son Santosh Kumar is a cabinet minister in the NDA government led by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Speaking at the event, Manjhi said he didn't consider lord Rama as 'God'. “He was an imaginary and fictional character. He was not real. I have never worshiped him and always advise my fellow members not to worship him as God.”
The HAM(S) chief lamented that the members of Musahar community, the most backward among the downtrodden, were of late lured to worship Hindu God and Goddess. “It pains me from within when somebody belonging to the Musahar community chants 'Jai Bhim',” he said.
The members of Musahars followed the ideals and principles of the late Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar. “Baba Saheb Ambedkar had adopted Buddhism before he died. So we should worship our own 'devi-devta' (God and Goddess) and not the other Hindu deities. It's all about 'astha' (belief),” he clarified.
Manjhi said performing 'satyanarain' by the members of Musahar community has become a common feature these days. “I had never heard about this deity earlier. The poor and innocent people are being exploited by 'pundits' (read Brahmins) in the name of puja,” he said.
Taking a dig at the priests, Majhi sought to know from the gathering, “Why do you allow the priests to perform puja when they refuse to eat at your home. They... It's a matter of shame for the members of the entire community.”
The BJP was quick to react to Majhi's remarks. Terming Manjhi's statement as unfortunate, BJP Rajyasabha member and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said, “He (Manjhi) should maintain restraint and avoid making such derogatory remarks when he had served on different constitutional posts.”
Corroborating Sushil Kumar Modi, BJP spokesperson and medical cell in-charge Sanjay Choudhary said, “When Manjhi doubts the existence of lord Rama, why does he ask for votes of the Hindus. Where he himself got elected from Makhdumpur, BJP spokesperson Sanjay Choudhary said.
The main opposition—Rashtriya Janata Dal—also joined the chorus. RJD MLA Raju Tiwari said, “It seems Manjhi ji may have given such a derogatory statement under the influence of liquor or his mental condition is not stable. He needs proper treatment from a psychiatrist.”
Manjhi recently hit the headlines for his remarks on prohibition in the state. He said people should be allowed to consume liquor in limited quantities. “There is no harm in consuming alcohol in limited quantities,” he had said, demanding relaxations in prohibition law.