Manjhi meets FB friends, poses for pics

Prime Minister Narendra Modi does it often - grinning and beaming for selfies with his fans - and now he has a follower in Jitan Ram Manjhi.

By Joy Sengupta in Patna
  • Published 19.04.15
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Jitan Ram Manjhi poses for selfies with his Facebook friends in Patna on Saturday. 
Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

Patna, April 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi does it often - grinning and beaming for selfies with his fans - and now he has a follower in Jitan Ram Manjhi.

The former chief minister borrowed a leaf out of Narendra Modi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's stylebooks when he decided to meet his Facebook friends around 11am at 1 Aney Marg today.

His team had divided the event into three segments - "Talk with Manjhi", "Tea with Manjhi" and "Snap with Manjhi". It was a hit. Over a 100 people, mostly youths, attended.

Manjhi's Facebook page (Jitan Ram Manjhi) was activated four months ago and has over 17,000 followers. Suryakant Pandey (17), a student living in Gaya, said: "I have been friends with Manjhi (on Facebook) for almost four months now. I took a train from Gaya around 5am just for this event. I believe in his words and will stand by him."

Manish Kumar, a friend of Suryakant, said: "The problem with Nitish is he doesn't interact with people. Which leader takes out time just to meet his Facebook friends? It has impressed us. Manjhi stands for the poor." His friend Nand Lal Pandit agreed.

Vaishali-based Sanjeev Kumar asked Manjhi if he felt some people would take advantage of him and his support base - just the question Manjhi would have loved to answer. And he replied effortlessly: "A great person once said that if help is needed, one should take it. And then, there are Tagore's lines, ' Ekla cholo re (Go alone)'. I believe in the latter and will always do so. I'll not take anyone's help as I know people of Bihar are there to help me and be with me." (Applause followed).

Abhilasha (20), a student from Vaishali, stood up to talk about women's empowerment and said most schemes for women were not reaching rural areas where parents still wanted to marry off their daughters as soon as possible. Manjhi interrupted: "Please don't give a bhaashan (speech)..." and then went on to deliver a three-minute speech on how his government gave 35 per cent jobs quota to women.

"If I come to power again, 80 per cent of my cabinet ministers would be youths. Also, during the elections, I will give tickets to 70 per cent of poor people. I couldn't prove my majority as some MLAs from my community voted against me. They are all hankering for party tickets and posts. Moreover, fear factor might also have played a part," he said.

Ambarish Kumar from Motihari asked: "When will Bihar be rid of poverty? I am supporting you with all I have. But, financially, I am weak."

Manjhi said: "We aren't financially weak. Consider the strength of our caste. If all of us contribute Re 1 each, we'll be richer than the rest. I urge people to donate to us."

It was time for another photo session, but Manjhi was in no mood for selfies. He posed for a group picture and moved on. The visitors sported white Gandhi caps with a photograph of Manjhi and HAM (Hindustan Awaam Morcha) written on it.