Patna: In May, Nitish Kumar and chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi started off as the mentor and a grateful disciple. Six months down the line, they are singing in different tunes.
On Thursday, Manjhi praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the strong response given to the Pakistan’s ceasefire violation. A day on, Nitish criticised Modi for the shelling at the border.
Speaking at a function to observe the birth anniversary of former President late VV Giri, Nitish today talked about the “record number of violation of ceasefire by Pakistan” ever since Modi became the Prime Minister. “Where are the tall claims he made about Pakistan before the Lok Sabha elections?” Nitish asked. He also mentioned the Chinese incursion when Modi was hosting the president of China.
Manjhi was handpicked by Nitish to occupy the chief minister’s post, which he vacated after the JDU’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. But the Gandhi Maidan stampede and the subsequent developments appear to have erected a wall between them.
Manjhi initially defended the officials after the tragedy. But later he transferred them.
Nitish made no efforts to defend the officials. “From what I have gathered from the people I have talked to, there was no proper arrangement for the crowd,” Nitish said.
The JDU insiders pointed out that Manjhi’s diktat prompted the transfer of Patna officials after the stampede. “For the first time, Nitish and his followers did not have a say in a major decision of the state government,” said a JDU MLA.
The widening rift between Nitish and Manjhi has become the talking point of the political circles here. “It is quite obvious that there is lack of communication between the two,” said a JDU leader.
Manjhi was not invited to a meeting Nitish convened yesterday at his residence to discuss how the party should approach the next Assembly polls. “It was a meeting of the office-bearers and the chief minister is not one among them. But he is an important person for the party and his presence could only benefit the party,” said a JDU leader.
Manjhi’s admission that he had paid bribe and the criticism of the functioning of Patna Medical College and Hospital caused flutters among the Nitish loyalists. “It is no wonder that Manjhi remained isolated when he alleged that a temple in Madhubani was washed after his visit,” a JDU leader said.
--The Telegraph, Calcutta