Hindustan Awam Morcha(HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi today demanded that the Nitish Kumar government raise SC/ST quotas following the example of Tamil Nadu.
Manjhi, a former Bihar chief minister, was reacting to Kumar's statement yesterday that ST/ST quotas could be rasied after the 2021 census and that state governments did not have the power to increase reservations.
Manjhi, who had quit THE JD(U) and floated his party three years ago after being forced to step down and make way for Kumar's return, also claimed that if the Bihar chief minister failed to do the needful while having an alliance with the party in power at the Centre (BJP), it would be "a reflection on his lack of commitment to the Dalits' cause".
"Nitish Kumar is simply trying to save his face by making populist but ambivalent gestures. If he is serious about the SCs and the STs getting a greater share, he should follow the example of Tamil Nadu where reservations stand at 69 per cent," Manjhi told reporters here.
"The Bihar chief minister can take recourse to the ninth schedule too. He is ideally placed to do so, being an alliance partner of the party in power at the Centre. If he is unable to do so now, it only implies that he lacks commitment," Manjhi said.
The HAM president, who recently quit the BJP-led NDA and joined the opposition RJD-Congress combine, also alleged that Kumar's recently-announced schemes like financial assistance to SC/ST candidates clearing preliminary civil services examinations would "remain mere announcements as the CM would, in all likelihood, throw up his hands saying he does not have the funds for implementation".
"When I was minister for social welfare in the government headed by Kumar, I had initiated the process of giving more teeth to the SC/ST Act by introducing provisions like protection and financial help to victims of atrocities. Kumar has been in power for over a decade and my proposals are biting dust," he said.
Manjhi dismissed as wasteful expenditure pet projects of Kumar like the 'Sabhyata Dwar' - the 32-metre-high gateway which was dedicated to the people earlier this week.
"The money spent on cluttering Patna with such structures could have been better utilised by developing new townships... Kumar seems to be anxious about leaving his imprint on history by coming up with projects like Buddha Park, Samrat Ashoka Convention Centre, Bapu Sabhagar and Sabhyata Dwar.
"I would suggest that he get a second Taj Mahal constructed. It would serve his ambition better," he remarked.
Manjhi, who is the sole HAM MLA and recently succeeded in sending his son to the legislative council with the support of RJD said he endorsed his senior coalition partners decision to project Tejashwi Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate in the next assembly polls.
The political stature of the 29-year-old Tejashwi Yadav was "much greater than mine", he said and described the oath-taking ceremony of H D Kumaraswamy in Karnataka as "an important step in the direction of opposition unity".
Asked about RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's ongoing tour of Bihar, Manjhi said he was against the Congress' demand for banning his entry to the state as it would only give him greater publicity. He asked the state government to keep "a close watch" since Bhagwat's previous visit was followed by state-wide communal clashes.
Asked whether he would support Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha polls, Manjhi said, "He is a deserving candidate but so are Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati. Let the opposition sit together and take a formal decision.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)