Bihar polls: Manjhi joins NDA

RSTV Bureau

MaanjhiFormer Bihar Chief Minister and leader of the Hindustani Awam Morcha, Jitan Ram Manjhi will fight the upcoming Bihar assembly polls as part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

The announcement came after a meeting between Manjhi and BJP President Amit Shah.

“In Bihar, an unholy alliance between Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad has been formed. I spoke to Amit Shah in this context. We have to work together to prevent Lalu and Nitish from coming to power,” Manjhi told reporters after meeting Shah.

Manjhi said he held several rallies across the state where the “consensus” was to get “rid” of both Lalu and Nitish.

“Yadavs feel that Lalu has betrayed them by joining hands with Nitish, who put thousands of Yadavs behind bars on petty charges. They no longer think that Lalu is their leader. Under these circumstances I felt that an alternative was needed,” Manjhi explained.

BJP also took the opportunity to slam the Janata Parivar.

“(Nitish) Kumar, Lalu and Mulayam Singh Yadav had been talking about merger, but it suddenly came down to alliance. There had been no consensus among them over the Chief Ministerial candidate and Lalu had publicly said it has not been decided,” BJP leader and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in Patna.

With Manjhi joining the NDA fold, the stage for the assembly polls in Bihar is set. On one side is the Grand Alliance of JD(U), RJD, Congress and NCP and on the other side is the BJP-led NDA.

BJP hopes to reach out to the dalits in Bihar through Manjhi who is a Mahadalit leader. Dalits constitute a considerable 22 per cent of the state’s population.

Seat-sharing matters were not discussed in the meeting between Manjhi and Shah. But this could prove to be tricky and costly for the BJP.

“It has been decided that we will go to whatever extent possible to help each other. We have not held any seat-sharing discussion. Our core committee will meet on June 15 and take a decision there. Our preparations are in all 243 seats,” Manjhi said.

Manjhi remained tight-lipped about the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate.

“It will be better if the name of Chief Minister is announced after the election,” Manjhi said.

Manjhi initially was also wooed by RJD chief Lalu Prasad but he was reluctant to be a part of any alliance which included Nitish Kumar, who ousted him as chief minister.

The BJP also met its other allies to discuss strategies for the polls. Amit Shah met Union Minister Upendra Khushwaha, whose party RLSP is part of NDA.