After Battle for Top Post, Its Nitish Kumar vs Jitan Manjhi on Mangoes and Litchis

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FILE: Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and his predecessor and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar. (Press Trust of India photo)


Patna:  The party of Jitan Ram Manjhi, former Bihar chief minister, has accused the Nitish Kumar government of deploying policemen to prevent him from enjoying mangoes and litchi on trees planted in the Patna bungalow he lives in.

Mr Manjhi continues to occupy the official residence of the chief minister at 1 Anne Marg bungalow three months after he was forced to step down in February.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who lives in a bungalow at 7 Circular Road, is not amused at the allegation of the Hindustani Awam Morcha, Mr Manjhi's new party. He said he has asked the police about it.

"It's easy to make allegations. Manjhiji is staying on at the CM house despite having another house and yet we have said nothing. So he has two houses. Anything inside the CM's house is the property of the Chief Minister. But if someone wants it, I say the fruit should be plucked and given to them - I will be happy to reimburse the cost of litchis or whatever from my pocket," Mr Kumar offered.

Danish Rizwan from Mr Manjhi's party has said that 24 policemen have been deployed to guard the hundreds of mango and litchi trees at the bungalow.

NDTV did not find policemen near the trees on Thursday, but news agency Press Trust of India said cops deployed at the bungalow said they have been instructed to guard the fruit and prevent anybody from even picking up mangoes and litchis that fall to the ground.

Mr Manjhi - who is a Mahadalit, one of the poorest and most backward castes in Bihar and also a powerful votebank - said it is an insult to the underprivileged. He said he suspected it was an attempt to prevent the many poor people who visit him from taking away fruit.

"Is this an issue? By doing this, he has shown his ill mentality. If I am staying here, I have the right to use the fruits that grows here," Mr Manjhi said.

In election season, the BJP too has hit out at Nitish Kumar for "insulting a mahadalit" who dared to rebel against him.

Nitish Kumar had handpicked Mr Manjhi to take his place when he stepped down as chief minister after his Janata Dal (United) was wiped out in the national election last year. When the JD(U) decided it was time for Mr Kumar to return, Mr Manjhi refused to step down, forcing the party to throw him out.


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