Speculation is rife in Bihar's political circles over the possible ouster of Jitan Ram Manjhi as the chief minister after he said his days in the office are numbered.
The speculation gained strength a day after Manjhi said his days in office were numbered as his detractors in the party were making every effort to remove him from the chief minister's post. Manjhi said: "I know efforts are on to remove me, I may or may not continue till November end."
Manjhi, who belongs to the economically backward Mahadalit community, is known for his controversial remarks. Hours after Manjhi's comment Sunday, former chief minister Nitish Kumar and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) president Sharad Yadav discussed for nearly two hours about political heat generated by Manjhi's controversial remarks in the past few days.
Nitish Kumar, however, refused to comment Monday on Manjhi's likely removal. "I will speak about it only after my ongoing 'Sampark Yatra' concludes Nov 29," Nitish Kumar told the media here.
According to JD-U leaders close to Yadav, some Bihar ministers, considered loyal to Nitish Kumar, have complained to him about Manjhi's controversial remarks and demanded his ouster. A powerful group of JD-U leaders has been lobbying to remove Manjhi and reinstate Nitish Kumar as the chief minister. "A decision might be taken by the end of this month," a JD-U leader said.
However, some JD-U leaders close to Nitish Kumar said he was not keen to become the chief minister by replacing Manjhi. Manjhi sparked a controversy within the JD-U when he said he would become a "supporter" of Narendra Modi if the prime minister granted special category status to Bihar. Besides, Manjhi said he could become the prime minister one day.
The Bihar chief minister's another recent remark that the upper caste people were foreigners and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes people were indigenous also got him in trouble as several party legislators belonging to the upper castes demanded his removal.
The JD-U leadership has warned Manjhi over the such remarks, but Manjhi said he would continue to speak as usual. "I am not going to bow before anyone and would continue to speak as usual to express my views before the people," he said.
Without naming anyone, Manjhi said he was more knowledgeable than those advising him not to speak. "I am simply trying to communicate with the people in their language. There is nothing unusual in it," he said.