NDA under pressure, says Manjhi

Jitan Ram Manjhi said the Dalits were firmly with the National Democratic Alliance because of allies such as him and the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP).

Updated - September 06, 2016 02:04 pm IST

Published - October 25, 2015 03:44 am IST - PATNA:

Union Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh’s statement after the killing of two Dalit children in Haryana and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s call for a relook at reservation are issues on which explanations are being sought by supporters of the Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM), contesting the Bihar elections as an ally of the National Democratic Alliance.

HAM chief and former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who parted ways rather bitterly with his erstwhile mentor and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, told The Hindu that the Opposition’s aggression over these two issues “have created pressure to explain and sometimes it becomes difficult to do so.”

“I condemn outright what Gen. [Retd.] V.K. Singh has said, but I also know that he has expressed his regrets. The Centre or the Scheduled Caste Commission and others can take up the matter. It is being made an issue in these elections by the Opposition by twisting the context of the statement,” he said.

“The Opposition’s aggression has brought on the pressure of explaining these remarks; sometimes it becomes difficult, but people will ultimately see through this ruse,” he said.

The BJP has been at pains to play down Gen. Singh’s remarks, which were criticised by its own allies and threaten to unravel its rainbow coalition of backward and forward communities.

“He did not say that he wanted to do away with it, he just said that we have to look at ways in which it can better serve the deprived classes. Who knows it may end up increasing quota from the way it is today,” said Mr. Manjhi on Mr. Bhagwat's stance on reservation.

‘Dalits backing NDA’

Mr. Manjhi said the Dalits were firmly with the National Democratic Alliance because of allies such as him and the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP). “There are 22 castes of Scheduled Castes in Bihar, and [Bihar Chief Minister] Mr. Nitish Kumar divided them, keeping Dusadhs [Paswans] out of certain categories. I added the Paswans to the Mahadalit category,” he said.

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