Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who heads the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) [HAM(S)] on Wednesday returned to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) deserting the Grand Alliance. Importantly, Manjhi announced that he would not contest the forthcoming state assembly election as he is 78.
Manjhi, who had dubbed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in February 2018 while quitting the NDA and joining the Grand Alliance anti-dalits and anti-poor, on Wednesday called the RJD President anti-poor and anti-dalits. In 2018, Manjhi had left the NDA alleging that 99% of those arrested for violating the prohibition laws were the poor and the dalits. He had also protested against the appointment of KS Dwivedi as the DGP, alleging Dwivedi was held responsible for the Bhagalpur riots in 1989 when he was the SP.
The HAM leader on Wednesday further alleged that the Grand Alliance’s constituents — the RJD and the Congress — refused to accept his demand to set up a coordination committee. In doing so, the RJD leaders humiliated him.
The Mahadalit leader said he was obliged to Nitish Kumar who made him the chief minister. He claimed even PM Modi respected him, which was denied in the RJD.
“Mai Lalu ke galat chakkar mai pad gaya tha (I was in the bad company of Lalu). There was only corruption and the Lalu family in the RJD, others were neglected.
Manjhi, who is from the most backward among the dalits-rat eaters (musahar) community had been in the Congress since 1980 and a member in the ministeries led by Jagannath Mishra, Bindeshwari Dubey. Later, he switched loyalty to the RJD and became a minister in the Lalu Cabinet too. Later, he leaned towards the JD(U) and became a minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet.
Manjhi clarified that his party would not merge with the JD(U), but will be part of the NDA.
Sushil Kumar Modi, the Deputy Chief Minister welcomed Manjhi to the NDA-fold and assured that he would get wider respect in the NDA. He was neglected by the RJD leaders in the Grand Alliance, Modi said.
Manjhi is the sole MLA of his party in the Bihar assembly. His son Santosh Manjhi is a member of the Upper House. He has reportedly demanded 10 seats from the JD(U) in the upcoming assembly election.