NDA gets a boost in poll-bound Bihar as Jitan Manjhi’s party joins it
Jitan Manjhi, who had been part of the opposition Grand Alliance, was being wooed by the NDA for a long time.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar will now be a coalition of four parties after former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi-led HAM-S on Wednesday announced that the party is joining the NDA.
The other members of the NDA are the BJP, JD (U) and the LJP.
“We have forged an alliance with Janata Dal (United) and have become a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). There has been no discussion about seat-sharing in the next Bihar Assembly elections,” said Manjhi who is also the party president.
The former chief minister and one of the prominent Dalit face of Bihar made it clear that he has joined as an alliance partner and there was no merger of the HAM-S with JD (U).
“My party will work for the victory of each alliance candidate,” he said and clarified that he has joined the NDA without any terms and conditions. “I have very old relations with Nitish Kumar. How many seats we will get, it is a matter between the JD (U) and HAM-S,” he said.
HAM-S sources claim the party might contest on 10 assembly seats. An NDA source said that JD (U) national president Nitish Kumar wanted Manjhi to contest against former assembly speaker Udai Narain Chowdhary of RJD but he had shown his reluctance to fight the elections.
“There is a possibility of Manjhi going to Rajya Sabha at the earliest opportunity,” said a HAM-S leader.
Manjhi’s party had contested 20 assembly seats in 2015 assembly polls and won only one. The JD (U) sources said that Manjhi could be a Dalit face of the party after the exit of Shyam Rajak. Manjhi has a big following in the Maha Dalit and Dalit communities, which form 16% of Bihar’s population of 104.1 million as per the 2011 census.
“Seat-sharing is not at all an issue for us. The party decided to be with the development agenda of the NDA,” said HAM-S spokesperson Danish Rizwan.
Soon after announcing his party’s decision to ally with NDA, Manjhi criticized the RJD and rued his decision to join the Grand Alliance. “I fell in the trap of Lalu Prasad and that is why I joined GA. RJD is full of corruption and neck deep into scams,” said Manjhi.
Countering the RJD allegations that the party made his son MLC, Manjhi countered, “He got the membership through merit. He is not a seventh pass but a MA, Ph.d.”
Welcoming Manjhi’s decision to join the NDA, deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted, “Manjhi’s leaving GA goes on to prove that a party run from jail cannot do justice to Dalits and Backwards. Welcome Manjhi ji.”
The JD (U) also welcomed the move. “The NDA is going to benefit from his experience. It is a great setback for the GA,” said JD (U) spokesperson, Rajeev Ranjan.
The LJP did not react to the development.