Manjhi’s Stance on Dignity, Self-respect and Party Propriety Must be Respected

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The constitutional crisis in Bihar is clear: Nitish may have majority of the legislatures but Jitan is the CM. The CM's lack of support can be ascertained only on the floor of the house when a government business (like the budget) is defeated. Jitan rightly says in that case he will step down.

Nitish may try to engineer the CM's ouster at the party level, but Jitan has a position defined and protected by the constitution. The governor, in the end, can have his own way of looking at the situation. He has a lot of constitutional lee-way to break the stalemate.

One blanket plea he can take is to declare that the administration of the state can’t be conducted in accordance with the constitution. He can, then, recommend governor’s rule or throw the legislature in suspended animation with Jitan’s cabinet in-charge of the care-taker government.

With the BJP government in the center, the political equation is subject to change. The BJP Bihar unit may be tempted to take advantage of the chasm developing in the Janata Parivar. A simple political calculation would dictate not to allow its arch enemy Nitish to crawl back to power one more time. The BJP can manipulate through the good offices of the governor. There have been many such precedents in the past.

Jitan seems to be right that the JD (U) party national president, Sharad Yadav, didn't have the right to convene the meeting of the state level party legislatures. As the leader of the legislature party, only the CM had that power. Sharad didn't even consult Jitan on this.

Jitan also says the leaders of the Mahadalits, who took stands in the past, were either killed or marginalized. For the first time, it’s he who has taken his own stand and refused to function as a rubber stamp.

It's true that Nitish nominated Jitan to the CM's position, but he imagined Jitan would be working as a lackey subservient attendant. Once Nitish realized that Jitan could take independent stand, he became intolerable. Nitish-led groups conspired to remove Jitan from power unceremoniously in less than a year.

Since the defeat of Nitish in the May 2014 Lok Sabha election, Nitish has surprisingly shown a number of inconsistencies in his political moves. First of all, as a leader of a regional party, he harbored prime ministerial ambition. He banged his head against Narendra Modi and got bruised. He must have realized his limitation. Then, after the defeat, he was not obligated to relinquish his position as the state Chief Minister, but he did. He thought he would plant a yes-man in his place and then come back thundering with the popular mandate of the Bihari voters. That plan went awry because the hand-picked CM asserted himself.

Nitish has shown no regard at all for constitutional or party propriety. He, like his patron Lalu, was seen always willing to distort and manipulate the party protocol or procedures. His personal ambition reigns supreme. The definition of being megalomaniac is stated to be “a delusional mental disorder that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur.” The
people of Bihar will have to figure out if this definition fits his character.

Jitan’s people assert that the Nitish-led horde has a feudal or semi-imperial attitude. They have inherited this from the Congress. In the past, the central Congress leaders, encouraged by Indira Gandhi, would treat the CM as less than an orderly. Lalu copied that with nepotism added. UPA I and II witnessed how the office of the PM can be made subservient to an individual (in the name of being party president).

Jitan appears to have taken a stand unexpected of a low-level camp follower. His party bosses are naturally unhappy. However, Jitan's assertion for dignity and propriety in politics will have its impact in the future politics of Bihar.

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