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Bihar CM Manjhi's remarks on upper castes evoke sharp criticism

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's controversial remarks that the upper caste people were foreigners today evoked sharp criticism from his own party with a JD(U) MLA Anant Singh demanding his resignation.

In another snub, the ruling party distanced itself from the Chief Minister's stand saying that it did not subscribe to his views. Singh, a two-term JD(U) MLA from Mokama in Patna district, flayed the Chief Minister for his remarks against the upper caste saying that Manjhi has lost his mental balance.

Jitan Ram Manjhi
Jitan Ram Manjhi

The JD(U) MLA also urged the party leadership to remove Manjhi from the chief minister's post claiming that his controversial statements from time to time had damaged the ruling party's interests. Another JD(U) leader Sanjay Jha, a confidante of former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, dubbed Manjhi's remarks against upper caste people as 'highly objectionable' and 'uncalled for'.

By calling the upper caste people as descendants of foreign invaders, the chief minister undermined contribution of this section towards nation building over the centuries, and again sought to create a divide in the society along caste and communal lines.

Stating that Manjhi, by making one contentious remark after another since assuming the chief minister's post six months ago, has undone all good works done by his predecessor Nitish Kumar who believed in 'Justice with growth' for all, Jha, a former MLC, urged the JD(U) leadership to take note of the chief minister's utterances and take appropriate steps.

Manjhi, however, remained unapologetic about his remarks against the upper caste people by offering no explanation when mediapersons questioned him. On being asked about JD(U) MLA Anant Singh's demand for his ouster from chief minister's post, Manjhi claimed that he was not being opposed by anybody within the ruling party and described Singh's stand as his personal view.

"It may be his personal view," the Chief Minister told reporters at a seminar here when his attention was drawn to the JD(U) MLA's demand. However, hours later JD(U) state unit spokesperson Niraj Kumar told a press conference about the party having distanced itself from the Chief Minister's remarks.

"The JD(U) stands for development of all and wants to take along all sections of the society," he said. On being asked whether the ruling party proposed to remove the chief minister or take action against him for his controversial remarks, Kumar merely said that the JD(U) leadership has taken note of Manjhi's remarks.

Manjhi had triggered a storm by dubbing the upper caste people as foreigners and descendants of 'Aryan' race at a
function in Bettiah (West Champaran) two days ago where he had also said that only the Dalits and tribals were indigenous people of Bihar.

The BJP quickly capitalised on the issue by lambasting Manjhi for "fomenting caste tension" in Bihar. Former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, former state unit BJP President C P Thakur and Leader of Opposition in the legislative Assembly Nandkishore Yadav among a host of BJP leaders came down heavily on Manjhi.

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