Jitan Ram Manjhi to be New Bihar Chief Minister
SC/ST welfare minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, a close confidant of Nitish Kumar, was on Monday handpicked by the outgoing Bihar chief minister to be his successor. Kumar, accompanied by Manjhi and other party leaders, drove down to the Raj Bhavan on Monday evening and handed over the letter to the Bihar Governor DY Patil for staking claim to form the next government headed by Manjhi.
“We have handed over the letter to the governor along with the letters of support from one CPI MLA and two independents. We have intimated the governor that Jitan Ram Manjhi will be the leader of the JD(U) legislature party. The existing strength of the house is 239 and we have the majority to form the government. It’s now for the governor to take a call on government formation,” Kumar told reporters outside the Raj Bhavan.
A Nitish loyalist, sixty-year-old Manjhi is known to be a soft-spoken politician who comes from a Mahadalit community, a constituency assiduously wooed by Kumar during his eight-and-a-half-year tenure as chief minister. Manjhi will be the first chief minister from the Mushahar caste (a Mahadalit). By nominating Manjhi, the JD(U) MLA from Makhdumpur, as the chief minister, Kumar will hope to buttress his position among the socially disadvantaged group to re- claim his lost ground after the drubbing he received in the Lok Sabha elections. Out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, JD(U) could manage to win only two seats (20 in 2009 polls).
Earlier in the day, Kumar said MLAs were initially reluctant to accept anyone other than him as their leader, but they later agreed. “I spoke to them individually and they finally agreed that my decision to demit the office was appropriate. In fact, they were proud of my decision which I believe will set new standards of morality in political life. Today, we are faced with a very unprecedented situation and so an unprecedented decision had to be taken,” he said.
NITISH KUMAR Outgoing Bihar Chief Minister We have handed over the letter to the governor along with the letters of support from 1 CPI MLA & 2 independents