Bihar opposition in disarray as Manjhi hints at joining NDA

Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Majhi with party workers early this month. ani

With the Bihar Assembly elections nearing, the state is witnessing tectonic shifts in political alignments. As deadline for the formation of a coordination committee with the “Mahagathbandhan” is nearing, Jeetan Ram Manjhi, president of Hindutani Awam Morcha (HAM), has declared intentions of joining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

He gave rise to speculations on Monday talking to the press that he may “sever his ties with the Mahagathbandhan if the coordination committee is not set up by 25 June,” a deadline given by Manjhi himself earlier this month. 

Or the question of whether he would be comfortable joining hands with Nitish Kumar, he said: “There are no permanent friends or foes in politics.” To support his point he quoted the example of Kumar himself joining the BJP, despite being a staunch opponent.

But while Manjhi has been crying hoarse for the formation of coordination committee, the RJD maintains its stand. A seemingly callous Tejashwi Yadav has not even reacted to Manjhi’s overtones in recent times. Manjhi is not yet opening his cards and says the decision would be taken at the party forum on 26 June.

 Senior JD-U leader and minister in the Nitish government Ashok Chaudhary on the question of whether Manjhi would be welcomed into the NDA said, “Manjhi has a tall stature and is a respected leader but he has to make up his mind if he wants to come into the fold of the NDA and join hands with the JD-U. Though the final call would be taken by Nitish Kumar himself, I would say he would be most welcome.”

Manjhi was handpicked by Nitish Kumar on 20 May 2014 and made the CM of the state after the routing defeat in that year’s Lok Sabha elections. Nitish kumar apparently wanted to send aloud the message of having taken the moral responsibility of having led the party to abysmal performance. In less than 10 months, the differences between the two became apparent and Manjhi was ousted as CM.

Manjhi’s possible foray into the NDA may be a discomfort for Chirag Paswan, as Paswan is very critical of Nitish Kumar. The BJP on the other hand is treading cautiously at this stage and keeping its cards close to its chest