A journey from clerk to CM
Once a clerk in Posts and Telegraph department, Jitan Ram Manjhi, a ‘mahadalit’ who was picked by Nitish Kumar to lead Bihar
Patna: Once a clerk in Posts and Telegraph department, Jitan Ram Manjhi, a ‘mahadalit’ who was picked by Nitish Kumar to lead Bihar, is an old hand in the state’s politics with stints as minister in Congress, RJD and JD(U) governments since 1980.
Manjhi, a six-time MLA who was elected from Makhdumpur reserved constituency in Jehanabad district, was minister for SC & ST Welfare in the outgoing Nitish Kumar government.
Known for maintaining low profile, Manjhi had been instrumental in Kumar’s reaching out to ‘mahadalits’.
Kumar had created this subsection within dalits minus the Paswan caste of LJP president Ramvilas Paswan to tap the support from this numerically strong section. Manjhi’s own caste ‘Mushar’ was recently designated as ‘mahadalit’ by the state government.
Manjhi is credited with popularising radio among the ‘mahadalits’ so that they could be made aware of government programmes for weaker sections.
Born on October 6, 1944 at Mahkar village in Gaya district, Manjhi’s father Ramjit Ram was an agricultural labourer. Manjhi himself was put to work in the fields by landlords during his childhood days.
But as a child he had a passion for education. With encouragement provided by his father and a tutor hired for a rich landlord children, Manjhi completed studies till class 7 without attending school.
He then took admission in a high school and went on to graduate in history from Gaya College in 1967. During his student days he was active CPI member.
Manjhi took up the job of clerk with Posts and Telegraph department in 1968 but quit it in 1980 to join Congress.
That year he won on Congress ticket from Fatehpur (reserved) Assembly constituency and became a deputy minister of welfare in 1983 in the government of Chandra Shekhar Singh.
He was also member of Congress government of Bindeswari Dubey.