Patna: A day after he denied talk of any differences with senior JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi today appeared to take a dig at his detractors, which prompted the party's spokesperson to advise him to "desist from saying such things" as "he was a nominated chief minister and not an elected one".
The comments in question came during the signing of an MoU between Bihar government and Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) for turning the Rajendra Agricultural University (RAU) in the state into a central university.
Lauding the Centre for the initiative, Manjhi added with a smile, "I am thanking the central government. If this leads to stomach ache for some people, let it be. If we have to get work done by the Centre, we will have to thank it."
The statement was taken to be an act of defiance by Manjhi's detractors after his efforts yesterday to dispel talk about a rift between himself and senior JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar.
Coming out strongly against Manjhi, JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said, "The Chief Minister should desist from saying such things. He should not say anything that can compromise the agenda of governance.
"Manjhi should not forget that he is a nominated CM and not an elected one and he should work on the roadmap already decided for the state. Whatever the Centre is giving to Bihar is our right. It is not alms," Neeraj Kumar added.
Earlier, a few ministers and JD(U) leaders known to be Manjhi detractors had raised questions as to why the chief minister thanked the Centre for anything and everything.
Manjhi's plain speak and, at times, defiant statements have been seen by JD(U) leaders close to Nitish Kumar as an effort to carve a niche for himself and stick to the chief minister's post.
Crisis in JD(U) deepened after the 'dinner diplomacy' meet which was attended by over 20 state ministers owing allegiance to Nitish Kumar at the residence of state food minister Shyam Rajak on January 21.
Manjhi had taken a defiant stand and claimed at a function at Banka the very next day that he has performed better than previous dispensations, including that led by Nitish Kumar.
JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav had to step in to douse the fire and held a closed-door meeting with Manjhi and state party president Basistha Narayan Singh yesterday.