Bihar elections: Tejashwi Yadav says Jitan Manjhi free to chart own path as leaders cross swords over CM face

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Published: March 19, 2020 11:18:10 AM

Jitan Ram Manjhi was earlier with the NDA after he quit the JD(U) in 2015. In March 2018, he joined the Grand Alliance led by RJD. The grand alliance in Bihar comprises five political parties -- RJD, HAM, Congress, RLDSP and VIP.

Jitan Ram Manjhi and Tejashwi Yadav together at an event. (File Photo) The grand alliance in Bihar has been in tatters after last year’s Lok Sabha elections when it lost all but one of the 40 seats in the state.

A day after Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi pitched for a change in the grand alliance leadership and later met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav came down heavily on the former CM and said that “all are free to choose their own paths”. Yadav, who is RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav’s political heir, sought to remind Manjhi that his son has been elected to the Legislative Council from the RJD quota.

“He (Manjhi) seems to have forgotten that a coordination committee was, indeed, in place. How else did his son end up getting elected to the legislative council from the RJD quota?” Yadav said.

Earlier on Monday, Manjhi had demanded the setting up of a coordination committee that will have a representative from all the five constituents of the grand alliance. He said that the committee should be entitled to make a decision on issues like leadership and inclusion of more parties in the alliance. He also accused the RJD of trying to impose its will on coalition partners and said that the party was not capable of taking on the ruling Nitish Kumar-led coalition in the state in the absence of Lalu. Lalu is currently serving a jail term in Ranchi after his conviction in connection with fodder scam cases.

Yadav said that the grand alliance gave Manjhi three seats to contest in Lok Sabha polls and one in assembly by-elections. “He should recall what was on offer for him in the NDA,” he said.

Notably, Manjhi is the sole MLA of his party. His son Santosh Kumar Manjhi was nominated to the Legislative Council with the help of the RJD. The RJD is the single largest party in the current assembly with 80 MLAs. The JD(U) has 70 MLAs in the 243-member House.

Manjhi was earlier with the NDA after he quit the JD(U) in 2015. In March 2018, he joined the Grand Alliance led by RJD. The grand alliance in Bihar comprises five political parties — RJD, HAM, Congress, RLDSP and VIP.

Meanwhile, Manjhi hit back at Yadav saying he did not come to the RJD carrying an application seeking entry into the Grand Alliance. He said Yadav may not be aware of the course of events and advised him to ask his father Lalu Prasad.

He claimed that Lalu had implored him to join the Grand Alliance to bolster the RJD’s prospects in by-elections to Araria Lok Sabha seat and Jehanabad assembly seat in May 2018.

“I was beseeched by the RJD leadership with no less than 50 telephonic talks to cross over,” he said. When asked about his meeting with Nitish Kumar, Manjhi said his talks with the CM was more of a personal nature. “I had approached him with a request to inaugurate some projects in my native village. He agreed and I am thankful to him for that,” he said.

The grand alliance in Bihar has been in tatters after last year’s Lok Sabha elections when it lost all but one of the 40 seats in the state. While the RJD has already declared Tejashwi as the CM candidate, alliance partners have expressed reservation over his name and pitched for a change. The alliance partners have time and again alleged that Tejashwi cannot take on the ruling dispensation led by Nitish Kumar who will seek a fourth consecutive term.

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

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