Patna, Feb 13: With senior JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar admitting mistake in choosing Jitan Ram Manjhi to succeed him as Chief Minister of Bihar, Manjhi today said that it was not just a "mistake" but "a great mistake".
"I have spent 34 year in politics and worked on different posts as minister and legislator...he (Nitish) committed great mistake in assuming that I'll act like his puppet," Manjhi told reporters.
"But, soon my self-respect pricked my conscience and I started asserting for rights of poor which he and people close to him did not like," Manjhi who began his electoral career in 1980 as MLA from Congress said.
"Mein garib jaroor hu par swabhiman rakhta hu (I am a poor no doubt but has self respect)," he said. Flanked by minister Maha Chandra Prasad Singh, the Chief Minister said he did not do any wrong while speaking for poor and announcing some programmes for them.
"I rather consolidated vote of a large section of society (dalits and mahadalits who constitute over 22 per cent of votes in Bihar) to the JD(U) so that they no longer look for here and there but be with us (JD-U)," he said.
Manjhi noted that the trouble started when he launched a crackdown on middlemen in different ministries who used to "swallow" a large chunk of developmental money.
"They ganged up against me and put pressure on Nitish Kumar to act against me," he said. "Party spokesman and some ministers made public remarks against me and when I asked him (Nitish) if it was with his consent he maintained silence," he added.