Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Thursday drew the ire of the Congress-RJD combine for terming as “honeymoon” the frequent holidays of Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav, taking time off the hustle and bustle of politics. The septuagenarian, who is known to not weigh his words carefully, made the remark here during an interaction with journalists after a meeting of his Hindustani Awam Morcha, which is a part of the ruling NDA in the state.
Manjhi, who appeared in public after spending weeks at a hospital, convalescing from COVID 19, had disapproved of Yadav choosing to be outside Bihar at a time when opposition parties had the opportunity to cash in on the farmers’ protests. The HAM chief, who quit the RJD-led Grand Alliance shortly before the assembly elections, said he was similarly disappointed when in 2019, after the drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, the RJD leader chose to spend months away from Bihar, frittering away the opportunity to place the Nitish Kumar government on the mat on issues like floods and the killer brain fever.
“I would say the three ‘yuvrajs’ (crown princes) Rahul Gandhi, Tejashwi Yadav and (LJP president) Chirag Paswan lack in maturity. Whenever their presence is required in the country or in the state, they are away somewhere, enjoying a honeymoon,” Manjhi – a party-hopper who has previously been in both the Congress and the RJD – had said on Wednesday. Peeved at the innuendo, Bihar Congress spokesman Rajesh Rathore hit back recalling an incident of a few years ago when one of Manjhi’s sons was allegedly caught in a hotel with a woman other than his wife.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal, shared on its official Twitter handle, old news clippings in which Manjhi sought to defend his son Praveen with the contention that there was nothing objectionable in a relationship between two consenting adults. RJD spokesman Mrityunjay Tiwari sought to twist the knife saying, “Manjhi is frustrated. He enjoys no clout despite his party being a part of the government in which the BJP and the JD(U) are calling the shots”.
“He has expressed the wish for a greater representation in the state cabinet and in the state legislative council. He knows that nobody is going to pay heed even though his party is like an oar which has helped the NDA to sail through,” said Tiwari. He was referring to the BJP-JD(U) combine having fallen short of a majority, and eight MLAs of HAM and another small ally VIP propelling the coalition past the magic figure.
Manjhi ought to remember that Tejashwi Yadav may be leading the opposition, but he belongs to the party which has the highest number of MLAs in the state assembly, and his son owes his berth in Vidhan Parishad to the support of the RJD- Congress combine, Tiwari added. Manhi’s son Santosh Kumar, who is currently a member of the state cabinet, had got elected to the Upper House in 2018 shortly after the HAM chief exited the NDA and joined the Grand Alliance.
The former chief minister was at that time the lone MLA of his party. The LJP, an NDA ally which has ended up in troubled waters following its brinkmanship in the assembly elections, was yet to come out with a reaction.