Bihar Election 2020: Congress wants to put up a united front against the NDA in Bihar led by Nitish Kumar and therefore wants smaller grand alliance constituents -- HAM, RLSP and VIP to remain in the alliance along with the RJD.
With just a few days to go for Hindustani Awam Morcha chief and former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s ultimatum to alliance partner Rashtriya Janata Dal to set up a coordination committee within the grand alliance of opposition parties by June 25 , the Congress high command is believed to have called Manjhi to Delhi to placate him in a bid to ensure that he remains in the grand alliance.
Manjhi’s deadline will end on June 25 and he has called a meeting of his party on June 26 in Patna to decide the future course of action. It has been learnt that the larger constituents of the grand alliance don’t want any defections ahead of the Assembly polls and efforts are being made to keep the flock intact.
According to reports, the Congress high command has called Manjhi to Delhi to discuss his demands. Majhi arrived at the national capital in the afternoon and is likely to meet top Congress leaders in the evening. Reports suggest Manjhi will meet Ahmed Patel, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.
The Congress wants to put up a united front against the NDA in Bihar led by Nitish Kumar and therefore wants smaller grand alliance constituents — HAM, RLSP and VIP to remain in the alliance along with the RJD. The Congress knows any defection would only cause damage as it will split the votes.
Notably, RLSP chief Upendra Singh Kushwaha is already in Delhi and Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) founder Mukesh Sahni could also reach Delhi soon.
Manjhi, Kushwaha and Sahni fear that they will be allotted a smaller number of seats when all five grand alliance constituents sit across the table and talk about the seat sharing formula. There is also a feeling that delay in reaching a consensus on the seat-sharing formula would dent their prospects in the elections as they will not get enough time to prepare for the elections.
The three parties had also blamed the delay in finalising the seat-sharing formula as one of the reasons for loss in the General Elections in 2019. This time, these parties are demanding that the Congress and the RJD work on a formula well in advance so that they get sufficient time to reach out to the masses.
The three leaders also have reservations to the RJD making a unilateral decision that Tejashwi Yadav, son of Lalu, will be the chief ministerial candidate of the grand alliance.
This was perhaps the main reason why Manjhi has been pressing for setting up a coordinating committee. Manjhi had set June 25 as a deadline for fulfilling his demand and has been vocal against Tejashwi’s leadership for a year now.
Reports say if Manjhi’s demands are not taken into account, he could announce to contest elections alone or could join the ranks with Nitish Kumar on June 26 when the HAM leaders meet in Patna. Manjhi was once Nitish’s ‘Man Friday’ and succeeded him after the JD(U) leader resigned as CM following the party’s humiliating defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. However, he floated his own political party — HAM after differences with Nitish and joined the BJP-led NDA. At that time, Nitish’s JD(U) was not a constituent of the NDA and had sided with the RJD. But in 2017, when Nitish jumped the grand alliance ship and returned to NDA fold, Manjhi quit the BJP-led alliance and joined the RJD-led grand alliance.
Kushwaha too was once considered a close confidant of Nitish Kumar but parted his ways in 2013 and floated his own party after resigning from JD(U). He then allied with the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll when Kumar was out of the NDA. His RLSP won all three seats it had contested. But it left the NDA after Nitish’s return in 2017 and contested the 2019 polls as a constituent of the Mahagathbandhan.