Bihar Assembly election 2020: Jitan Ram Manjhi quits Mahagathbandhan in big setback for RJD-Congress

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Updated: Aug 20, 2020 5:26 PM

The grand alliance in Bihar now comprises RJD, Congress, RLSP led by Upendra Kushwaha and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) led by Mukesh Sahani.

Jitan Ram Manjhi quits Mahagathbandhan ahead of Bihar Assembly elections.

The grand alliance of the opposition parties in Bihar on Thursday suffered a major setback after one of its key constituents — the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) led by Jitan Ram Manjhi — announced its decision to quit the alliance. According to media reports, the decision was taken at the HAM’s core committee meeting in Patna on Thursday.

HAM spokesperson Danish Rizwan told the media about the party’s decision to quit the grand alliance. Rizwan said that the HAM was being ignored by the larger constituents and therefore, “Jitan Ram Manjhi has decided to end ties”. He also charged the grand alliance constituents of sidelining Manjhi.

According to reports, Manjhi could rejoin the NDA which comprises BJP, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP.

“HAM is not a part of the grand alliance in Bihar anymore,” Manjhi said in a statement, adding that a decision whether to join the NDA for the upcoming assembly polls will likely be taken in next two or three days.

“We were ignored in ‘Mahagathbandhan’. They thought we have no potential. How long would we’ve tolerated? Don’t think there was meeting of alliance’s senior leaders in last 1-1.5 yrs. It was lethal for welfare of poor,” Santosh Suman, MLC & son of HAM chief Jitan Ram Manjhi, saod.

“We decided to fight for their rights by leaving the Alliance. We haven’t decided future course of action, we will talk to our workers and our senior leaders will discuss. We might contest election on our own or forge a new alliance. There can be a third front too,” Suman added.

The grand alliance in Bihar now comprises RJD, Congress, RLSP led by Upendra Kushwaha and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) led by Mukesh Sahani.

Jitan Ram Manjhi, once considered Nitish Kumar’s ‘Man Friday’, had floated the party in 2015 after he was expelled from the Janata Dal (United) following a rebellion. Manjhi was handpicked by Nitish as his successor in 2014 after JD-U’s poor show in the general election.

Manjhi is a Mahadalit and has a strong base among the backward communities in the state. The decision to quit the grand alliance which he had joined in 2018 after quitting the BJP-led NDA, could result in division of the EBC votes and hurt the grand alliance’s prospects in the October-November Assembly elections.

Manjhi was earlier reported to be unhappy over RJD’s behaviour and projecting Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav as the CM candidate of the grand alliance. Manjhi was the first grand alliance leader who had openly disapproved of Tejashwi’s leadership and pressed for a change ever since the grand alliance’s drubbing in the May 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Manjhi was in favour of setting up a coordination committee to help alliance partners to discuss issues like leadership and seat-sharing distribution among others. Reports had earlier suggested that he had even met top Congress leaders in Delhi after he served the grand alliance an ultimatum to form the coordination committee, failing which he would be free to chart his own path.

Bihar is slated to go to polls in October-November later this year.

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