Ahead of the Opposition meet in Patna on June 23, former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s son Santosh Suman, on June 13, resigned from the Cabinet of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Mr. Suman was looking after the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Welfare Department and his resignation is seen a big set back for Mr. Kumar.
Mr. Suman tendered his resignation soon after meeting senior Janata Dal (United) leader and Finance Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary.
Asked about the reason for resignation from the Cabinet of Mr. Kumar at the crucial stage when the Opposition meet is scheduled, Mr. Suman said, “There was a lot of pressure and we were continuously asked to merge our party in JD(U) and this offer was not acceptable to our leadership. The existence of my party was under threat so Instead of merging, we thought of resigning from the Cabinet. We have struggled a lot form the party and there was no possibility of merging it.”
He also clarified that HAM(S) will remain with Mahagathbandhan and has not left the alliance yet.
Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) supremo Jitan Ram Manjhi has earlier demanded five Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming 2024 election. Mr. Manjhi was also disappointed over not getting the invitation to attend the scheduled Opposition meet in Patna.
At present, Mr. Manjhi’s HAM(S) has four MLAs in Bihar Legislative Assembly and one MLC in Bihar legislative Council. Last year when Mr. Kumar had broken the alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr. Manjhi had given unconditional support to the Mahagathbandhan.
The political move of Mr. Manjhi is seen as a big offer from the BJP which has forced him to take this bold step. In the month of April Mr. Manjhi along with his son had met Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah in Delhi.
Mr. Manjhi is a known ‘party hopper’ but at the same time he is an important Dalit face. He had recently said that his son would be a better CM candidate than many in contention, in a veiled reference to speculation about RJD leader and Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav being groomed as Mr. Kumar successor.
Reacting to the resignation, Lesi Singh, a Minister in Mr. Kumar’s Cabinet said that there would be no impact on the government.
“Our leader Nitish Kumar ji had once given him the post of Chief Minister, what more respect he is expecting now. There would be no impact of his resignation on the functioning of the government. Such a leader keeps on coming and going, “Ms. Singh said at the party office.
Reacting to the resignation of HAM(S) Minister, BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said, “Jitan Ram Manjhi is a seasoned politician and nobody can dictate him. Manjhi ji recently raised the issue of Dalit welfare and said that none of the programmes related to the welfare of Dalits are being implemented by the government. Nitish ji always used Manjhi ji to brand his image but never paid attention to his demands and the issue he raised. What decision will he take in the future? Only he will decide.”
Reacting to the resignation of HAM(S) Minister, senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Sayed Shahnawaz Hussain said, “With the resignation of Santosh Suman, the countdown of Mahagathbandhan Government in Bihar has commenced. Nitish Kumar is organising the Opposition meeting but his own alliance partner is leaving him. It is a big jolt for him before the Opposition meet. Lalu ji and Nitish will remain alone as everyone will leave them one by one”
For the past few days, Mr. Manjhi was also upset over not getting the invitation to the Opposition meeting. He had categorically stated that he has not got any invitation to attend the meet.
After this development, Mr. Kumar held a closed-door meeting at his official residence with JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh, Vijay Choudhary, Cabinet Minister Bijendra Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav. No reaction from Mr. Kumar or Mr. Yadav has come yet.
Talks of Cabinet expansion have also started in Bihar before the June 23 meeting and in all likelihood, new faces would be inducted into the Cabinet. Two Ministers from the RJD quota have already resigned which includes Sudhakar Singh and Kartikeya Singh. Congress has been demanding to allot more Cabinet berths. So, seeing the present scenario Mr. Kumar is likely to expand the Cabinet before the Opposition meets by inducting another Dalit leader to douse off Mr. Manjhi’s episode.