Nitish's decision to accept the opposition leader's invitation comes amid the reports of strained ties between the ruling BJP and JD(U).
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday evening attended an Iftar party hosted by Hindustani Awam Morcha president and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi at his residence in Patna. The growing bonhomie between Kumar and Manjhi displayed in the last two days has raised the political temperature in the state, especially after JD(U) president’s decision to not join the Modi government and to not give any representation to the BJP and LJP in the recent Cabinet expansion. This fueled the talks that Kumar may be considering an option to return to the grand alliance or forging a new alliance in the state ahead of the assembly polls due to be held in October-November next year.
According to news agency ANI, the two former CMs sat next to each other and were seen sharing some light moments. Reports say that RJD leader and former CM Bihar Rabri Devi and her elder son Tej Pratap were also present in Manjhi’s Iftar party.
The Iftar was hosted by Manjhi a day after Janata Dal (United) hosted a similar gathering in Patna which was attended by the HAM chief. Manjhi was once Nitish’s Man Friday and succeeded him after JD(U) leader resigned as CM following the party’s humiliating defeat in the 2014 general elections. However, when Manjhi was asked to vacate the CM’s chair in February 2015 to accommodate Kumar, he refused to do so. Later, he resigned from the chair and quit the JD(U) as well. He then floated his own political party Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and contested the assembly elections in 2015 in an agreement with the BJP and LJP. Manjhi’s HAM is current a constituent of the grand alliance in Bihar led by RJD.
Nitish’s decision to accept the opposition leader’s invitation comes amid the reports of strained ties between the ruling BJP and JD(U). Leaders of BJP and JD(U) skipped each other’s iftar parties, triggering talks that Kumar was upset with the treatment meted out him in Delhi. However, Kumar and his deputy and BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi attended an Iftar hosted by LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan at his house. The LJP is a part of the ruling coalition.
On Monday, the RJD hinted that the doors of the grand alliance are still open for Nitish. Senior party leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said that Nitish will surely quit the NDA as switching sides is in his blood. He added, “All I want is that everyone should come together, against BJP.”
Though RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha said that it is an internal issue of two parties, the current political situation in the state reaffirms that the public has been cheated. Previously, RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha had alleged that the BJP must be ready for a ‘second betrayal’ from Nitish. The Congress too said that no JD(U) representation in the Union Cabinet is a clear-cut message that everything is not right between the two parties.