Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday held a meeting with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes IAS officers.Manjhi had convened the meeting at the Chief Minister secretariat’s Samvad Hall at 11am, a day after getting assurance from the Janata Parivar that his position was safe for now.
After Bhola Paswan Shastri and Ram Sundar Das, Manjhi is the third Scheduled Caste Chief Minister of the State.
Manjhi had reshuffled 18 IAS officers, most of them considered close to his predecessor Nitish Kumar, while he gave plum postings to the officers belong to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Manjhi has been pushing the Dalit agenda with gusto. Former IPS officer Amrik Singh Nimbran, belongs to Scheduled Caste, has been appointed his security adviser. Dalit officers are holding the key posts like IAS officer Amrit Lal Meena posted as the principal secretary to the chief minister and Sudhir Kumar, a 1987 batch IAS officer as principal home secretary.
An officer attending the event found nothing wrong in it. So did Patna commissioner Narmadeshwar Lal, the president of SC/ST Employees’ Association.
Lal said: “The chief minister keeps on meeting the members of various associations and it is at the chief minister’s discretion where he holds the meeting.”
To be honest, caste always prevailed in the bureaucracy in Bihar.
Manjhi is not doing anything unusual by posting Dalit officers in key posts. The only difference is that caste was used discretely in the past,” said a senior IAS officer.
Earlier, upper caste chief ministers promoted officials of their caste in their regime.
When Lalu Prasad came to power in 1990, officers belonging to the backward castes were given plum posts and those belonging to the upper castes were given insignificant positions.
Even during the Nitish Kumar regime, officers belonging from outside the state and hailing from a particular caste were brought to Bihar and given plum posts.
In Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati, who also gave Dalit officials key posts whenever Bahujan Samajwadi Party came to power.
Bihar has 22 Dalit castes and except Paswans. Dalits account for nearly 22 per cent of the total population whereas Paswans make up 4 per cent.
Many political observers believe that Manjhi is pursuing Dalit politics to emerge as the tallest Dalit leader in Bihar to gear up for the Bihar Assembly elections due in November.