Manjhi sparks yet another controversy
At a function to mark the birth centenary celebrations of former Chief Minister Bhola Paswan Shastri Manjhi said, "A deep-rooted bias prevails against Mahadalits and those from the down-trodden sections of society....I have myself been a victim of caste bias."
Manjhi visited the temple during the bypolls held in August.
The Chief Minister said that he was not aware of the incident and it was narrated to him subsequently by Mines and Geology Minister Ram Lashan Ram Raman.
Manjhi said, "When it comes to getting their work done, the upper caste people don't mind even touching my feet despite knowing my background."
Manjhi's Minister denies such an incident
But to the Bihar CM's amazement, his own minister and MLC, who had accompanied him during the temple visit denied the charge and said Raman had probably "misinformed" the CM. As per the two leaders, Raman was not with the CM when they visited the temple.
As per an Indian Express report, rural development minister Nitish Mishra, "Vinod Singh and I had accompanied the temple which does not have any deity as much but an earthen pind. It is an ancient Kali temple, which has been open to all. DMs, BDOs and other government officials coming from scheduled caste have visited the temple".
Denying the CM's allegation of the temple having been "washed", Mishra said: "No such thing happened. Rather, the CM was overwhelmed with the reception. He may have been misinformed about it. The temple, which is washed twice - 4 am and 4 pm everyday - was in fact could not be washed for the second time on August 18 because of the temple's preoccupation with the CM visit". Mishra further said, "Had such things happened, there could have been prompt registration of cases and probable fine on entire village. After all, it was about the CM. But in reality, it had not happened."
Why Manjhi raising this issue now?
It seems the Bihar Chief Minister has just lobbed this bombshell to bag publicity by playing the victim card. But, statements like these are not easy to digest as it not only highlights the state in bad taste but also reflects such evil practices are still prevalent in the society.
This proves that the state governments over these years have failed to eradicate these social evils and raises a big question over administration's seriousness. It also sends a message in the public that if a state's CM is given such a treatment then how can a common man, coming from scheduled caste, expect equality in the state?
Did Manjhi make efforts to ward off this evil practice?
If a temple is being washed after a CM, who belongs to a lower caste, visits it then there are optimum chances that people from low caste are banned from stepping inside the temple premises. Has the government ever tried to take a note of it?
Also, if this was the case then why the CM was waiting for an opportune moment to bring such an evil custom into light. Wasn't he supposed to take an action on it so that no other person from any community faces such a humiliation?
Manjhi holds a Constitutional body and it is expected of him to ensure everyone's fundamental rights are not violated. India's Constitution gives every citizen Right to Equality and instances like these violate one's Fundamental Rights'. A CM's post is a dignified position and no is supposed to humiliate it.
Also, it is expected from a CM to put things in order instead of playing the victim card. It would have been better if the CM instead of playing the victim card should have tried to come up with viable a solution.
It seems Manjhi has made such statement not to reflect the social evil still prevalent in the society but to polarise the Dalits and Mahadalits in the state keeping the next year's assembly polls in mind.
Also, the statement from his own partymen, who accompanied him, contradicts with his statement. They have denied any such allegations made by the CM and said nothing of this sort ever happened. Hence, it proves that either the CM was ill informed or he deliberately made this controversial statement to draw publicity. And in both the cases it certainly puts his office under docks.
Manjhi not new to controversies
Manjhi, who became Bihar's CM in the month of May after Nitish Kumar resigned owing to JD(U)'s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, is known for making controversial statements.
He had courted controversy, in the past as well, when he made statements like:
I had to pay a bribe of Rs 5,000 to electricity department officials to get his power bill modified a couple of years ago.
Nothing wrong in consuming alcohol after eating dinner.
Hoarding, black marketing by small traders is no crime.
Dalits should go for inter-caste marriage to 'increase population'.
He even lost his temper at a crowd of protesters at his constituency and shouted "I don't win because of your votes".