Bitterness springs from mangoes and litchis

Our Bureau New Delhi/Patna | Updated on January 24, 2018

Forbidden fruit: A security officer guarding Jitan Ram Manjhi’s residence in Patna on Thursday. PTI

Manjhi accuses Nitish Kumar of denying him fruits growing in his official bungalow

The complexity of Bihar’s fractious politics is not without its lighter moments.

Even the usually stoic Chief Minister Nitish Kumar could not resist a few laughs on Thursday when his former colleague and predecessor Jitan Ram Manjhi accused him of deploying policemen to stop him from plucking mangoes and litchis growing in the backyard of his government bungalow.

It all started with local media reporting the presence of policemen around the sprawling bungalow at Anna Marg in Patna that is customarily the residence of the State Chief Minister.

However, the feisty Manjhi has refused to vacate the bungalow even after having been thrown out of his post. Whether the policemen, reportedly around 24 of them, were on surveillance duty — considering Manjhi’s hobnobbing with the BJP of late — is difficult to ascertain. But according to his newly-created party, the Hindustani Awam Morcha, the policemen were guarding the ripe mangoes and litchis that grow in abundance in Manjhi’s backyard.

The former Chief Minister, on his part, claimed that the deployment of policemen represented Nitish’s “petty mindset”.

“Lalu lived here for 4-5 months. Were such instructions issued then? This reflects a petty, disgusting mindset. They (the government) want to deny a Dalit the pleasure of enjoying the fruit growing in his own home,” he said.

An amused Nitish could not suppress a few laughs before he sobered up to deny the accusation.

He said he was not aware of the police deployment and had sought details from State police chief PK Thakur.

“I am engaged in the development of Bihar but if somebody’s entire focus is on eating mangoes and litchi I will make sure the fruit reaches the person who so desires,” he quipped.

“And, if the rules say some cost has to be borne for the fruit, I will pay from my own pocket,” said the CM, on a lighter note.

The BJP, which has decided to support Manjhi regardless of the frivolousness of the issue concerned, stepped in with full force. Party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain duly held a press conference in Delhi to accuse Nitish of being “anti-Mahadalit”.

“Nitish Kumarji ko aam ki awaam se zyada fukr hai (Nitish Kumar is more bothered about mangoes than people of Bihar). He is so frustrated that he is denying a Mahadalit (Manjhi) the pleasure of eating chutneys made of mangoes growing in his backyard,” he asserted.

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Published on June 04, 2015
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