| Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s house at Mahakar village in Gaya. Picture by Suman |
Transformed overnight into mukhyamantri’s village from mantri’s, Mahakar burst into celebrations on Tuesday — the day gaon ka beta (son of the hamlet) Jitan Ram Manjhi took oath as the chief minister.
Deafening sound of crackers erupted at Mahakar, around 100km south of Patna, as soon as Manjhi walked up to the dais in Patna to take oath of office. Villagers embraced each other.
The chief minister’s village has 102 households housing 968 people. The village was in celebration mood right from the morning. Happy to have a humble next-door chief minister, villagers greeted each other.
The only talking point in the hamlet was Manjhi, whom the villagers call mantriji, became the chief minister. The villagers were proud that Mahakar would be called the village of mukhyamantriji. They were also grateful to the former chief minister, Nitish Kumar, for proposing the name of Manjhi for the top post. “Nitish Kumar has been benevolent to Gaya in general. He once offered a chair to Dashrath Manjhi, the mountain man of Gaya, to sit. Now, he named Jitan Ram Manjhi as his successor. We are proud to be residents of Gaya,” said a villager, flashing the victory sign.
Yugeshwar Sharma (60) of Mahakar told The Telegraph: “It is a great honour to the people of the village in particular and the residents of Gaya in general.” This retired employee of the animal and fish resources department is a neighbour of Manjhi’s ancestral home at Mahakar.
“Soft-spoken mantriji (oops mukhyamantriji, old habits die hard) loves to speak with us in Magahi, a local dialect of the Magadh division comprising Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Nawada and Arwal districts. Even at public meetings, he addresses the gathering in Magahi. During visit to the village, he addresses people as bhaiya, chacha, beta, depending on their age,” he said.
Describing Manjhi a man with mission, Yugeshwar listed the development activities initiated by their mantriji in the village. The primary school has been upgraded to a middle school. He also got a primary health centre established in the village, connected with metallic roads, he said.
With the celebrations, expectations have soared in Manjhi’s ancestral village. Arvind Kumar (40) demanded a new block at Mahakar. At present, the village belongs to Khisersarai block, around 14km away. “Besides, there should be proper irrigation facility in the village,” said Arvind, a farmer living beside the ancestral house of Manjhi where his cousins stay now.
Down 35km southwest, Manjhi’s present house at Godawari locality in Gaya town, was abuzz with activities from Monday evening — moments after he was named the successor of Nitish. His eldest son Santosh Kumar Suman said: “My father has got the reward of hard labour and good behaviour with all during his 34-year political career.” His wife Deepa Kumari said on Monday night: “Babuji has always worked to help the downtrodden.”
All family members of the chief minister left for Patna early in the morning on Tuesday to be present in the swearing-in ceremony. Only State Auxiliary Police (SAP) jawans were seen guarding Manjhi’s residence.