Mangoes and litchis growing at 1, Anne Marg, the designated bungalow of the Bihar chief minister, have become the latest cause of dispute between CM Nitish Kumar and his detractor Jitan Ram Manjhi, who continues to occupy the official residence despite demitting office.
Former chief minister Manjhi has accused the Kumar government of deploying 24 police personnel to prevent him and his family members from using mangoes and litchi growing in the trees planted at 1, Anne Marg where he is residing despite being removed from office in February this year.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar laughed at the accusation and told reporters he was not aware of the matter and has sought details from state police chief P K Thakur.
The director general of police said that the Special Security Group is entrusted with the job of providing security to protected personalities like CM and he had sought details from its commandant about the present controversy.
Kumar stays in a bungalow at 7, Circular road.
Manjhi said that deployment of policemen, including eight sub-inspectors and 16 constables at 1, Anne Marg, for guarding hundreds of trees bearing mangoes and litchis fruits to prevent him and his family from enjoying them, reflects “base mentality” of Kumar.
“How strange it sounds that a person living in a bungalow can not enjoy fruits of trees in the premises,” Manjhi said.
He said: “One gardener was suspended recently for plucking mangoes for my family.”
“Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad had stayed in 1, Anne Marg for nearly six months after his wife Rabri Devi lost power in 2005 and the same Nitish Kumar who became CM could not give such orders against him then,” Manjhi said.
“Being a Dalit I am not that strong so I can be humiliated to this level also by Nitish Kumar,” he said.
“Had the Nitish administration deployed these 24 police personnel at Gandhi Setu it could have helped clear prolonged jam on bridge over Ganga. But, its priority is to harass me and my family,” he said.
Kumar described the matter as “petty” and said he has asked the DGP regarding it.
“I was not aware of the matter. But when I read it in newspapers today I enquired from DGP,” Kumar told reporters.
“Had the matter been brought to my knowledge earlier I would have got all the mangoes and litchis in trees in 1, Anne Marg plucked and given it to its present occupant (Manjhi),” he said in a lighter vein.
Manjhi was handpicked by Kumar to succeed him after he stepped down from the CM’s post in the wake of Jantal Dal-United’s debacle in general elections. But, he turned a detractor after being removed from the post in February this year.
“I am engaged in development of Bihar but if somebody’s entire focus is on eating mango and litchi I will ask employees to give all fruits of 1, Anne Marg to the person,” Kumar said.
“And if the rules say some cost has to be borne for these fruits I will pay them from my own salary,” said the CM, on a lighter note, over the controversy.
Image: A guard deployed at 1, Anne Marg bungalow to prevent Manjhi from enjoying the fruits. Photograph: ANI/Twitter