Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today visited the native village of his confidante-turned-rebel Jitan Ram Manjhi in Gaya district and said he has “always had affection and respect” for the former CM who has since quit the Janata Dal (United) and formed his own outfit. Sharing dais with Manjhi, whom Kumar had appointed as the Chief Minister after his own resignation in the wake of the JD(U)’s debacle in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Chief Minister said “I am extremely glad to visit Mahkar, the village of Manjhi, upon his invitation”. “I have always had affection and respect for Manjhi. He has requested better road connectivity for his village and I would like to ensure him that work is taking place in that direction at a brisk pace”, the CM was quoted as saying in an official release. Kumar was speaking after dedicating to the public a number of development projects in the area, including a newly constructed Industrial Training Institute (ITI).
Manjhi, who was earlier seen as a trusted lieutenant of Kumar, had revolted when he was asked by the JD(U) leadership to resign from the Chief Minister’s post within less than a year of assuming office. Amid mounting pressure, Manjhi resigned but also formed a new political outfit – the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) — which fought the 2015 assembly polls as an ally of the BJP-led NDA. Kumar, who replaced Manjhi upon the latter’s resignation, faced the polls as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the Grand Alliance comprising JD(U), RJD and the Congress, which went on to sweep the assembly elections.
However, earlier this year, Kumar returned to the NDA fold after he resigned following differences with the RJD over corruption cases against his then Deputy, Tejashwi Yadav and his father Lalu prasad. At today’s function, Kumar also spoke about the need for ensuring inclusive growth, taking a cue from the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and eradication of social evils like dowry, child marriage and consumption of alcohol.