PATNA: In a setback for the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan in Bihar, former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi announced on Thursday that his Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) would break away from the opposition alliance and look for an alternative ahead of the assembly polls in the state. Party sources, however, denied its merger with the JD(U).
The party decided to part ways with the Magathbandhan at a meeting of the HAM(S) core group held here on Thursday. Party chief Manjhi, a Mahadalit leader, was also authorized at the meeting to decide the future course of action, including reaching an alliance with another political group.
The development came even as three RJD MLAs, including Chandrika Rai – party chief Lalu Prasad’s relative – joined JD(U) on Thursday.
Chandrika is father of Aishwarya Rai, who is married to Lalu’s elder son and former health minister Tej Pratap. Two other MLAs who joined JD(U) are Jaivardhan Yadav and Faraz Fatmi. On Monday, three RJD MLAs — Maheshwar Prasad Yadav, Prema Choudhary and Ashok Kumar — had joined the JD(U).
Soon after the meeting of HAM(S) members, party spokesperson Danish Rizwan said, “It was decided at the meeting of the core group not to stay any longer with the Mahagathbandhan as it ignored our main demands. The Mahaganthbandhan constituents deliberately ignored our top leaders.”
HAM(S) would decide on allying with another political group in the next few days, he said, denying reports of a merger with JD(U).
Speculation was rife over Manjhi switching over to NDA ever since his relations with the Mahagathbandhan, especially RJD, got strained over its repeated demand for setting up of a coordination committee to decide seat sharing and CM candidate of the Mahagathbandhan.
Manjhi had contested the 2015 assembly election as part of the NDA and got 20 seats to fight from. However, it won only one and forfeited sureties on many of the seats. The JD(U), led by CM Nitish Kumar, was then part of the Mahagathbandhan, which consisted of RJD, JD(U) and Congress. In 2017, Nitish left the Mahagathbandhan and formed the government with the BJP and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
The NDA will get another Mahadalit face ahead of the assembly election if Manjhi joins the alliance.