Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

Bihar Assembly Polls: Setback To Mahagathbandhan, Jitan Ram Manjhi's Party May Join NDA

Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar last week and is believed to have held talks with him on seat sharing for the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections.

Jitan Ram Manjhi. (File photo) PTI

Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi-led HAM(S) will join the NDA ahead of the Bihar elections, a party spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The official announcement in this regard will be made by Manjhi on Thursday, said spokesperson Danish Rizwan.

The Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) will not merge with any party, rather it will be a part of the NDA in the Bihar elections that is due in October-November, he asserted.

HAM(S) national president Jitan Ram Manjhi will formally announce the party becoming a part of the NDA in Bihar on September 3, Rizwan said.

The number of seats the party will get to contest in the upcoming elections was never an issue for it as the HAM(S) will join the NDA for the states development, he said.

The party is firmly standing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for their development works, he added.

Manjhi had on August 20 severed ties with the Grand Alliance after spending two-and-a-half years in the opposition coalition, comprising of RJD, Congress, RLSP and Bollywood set designer-turned-politician Mukesh Sahni''s Vikasshil Insaan Party (VIP).

The HAM(S) chief had also postponed a meeting scheduled on Wednesday with some non-NDA and non-Grand Alliance parties, including the Jan Adhikar Party of former MP Pappu Yadav, to discuss the strategy for the elections.

Manjhi met the chief minister last Thursday and believed to have held talks on seat sharing.

The HAM(S) wants to contest 15-20 seats, mostly in the Magadh region to which Manjhi belongs. But the JD(U) is willing to leave for it 10-12 seats, according to reports.

Manjhi is the lone member of his party in the assembly. But, his induction would help the NDA''s outreach to Dalits, particularly other than Paswans which is the support base of the LJP.

Dalits in Bihar are over 16 per cent of the electorate and about 40 seats in the 243-member house are reserved for them.

Manjhi had quit the JD(U) in 2015 after being forced to step down as the chief minister to make way for the return of Kumar.

Later, he formed the HAM(S) and contested 21 seats in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections as an NDA constituent. With the return of Kumar to the NDA in July 2017, he walked out of it to join hands with the opposition grouping.