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Big Jolt to NDA in Bihar as Jitan Manjhi Decides to Join Lalu Camp

Manjhi’s decision is also seen as a coming of age moment for Lalu Yadav’s younger son and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

Alok Kumar | News18.comdmalok

Updated:February 28, 2018, 12:41 PM IST
Big Jolt to NDA in Bihar as Jitan Manjhi Decides to Join Lalu Camp
File photo of Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) President Jitan Ram Manjhi. (Photo: PTI)
Patna: Jitan Ram Manjhi gave a big jolt to the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar on Wednesday by announcing his decision to join Lalu Yadav led Mahagathbandhan.

This is a realignment of political forces ahead of the 2019 General Elections with Lalu Yadav attempting to stitch a new caste combination of Yadavs, Muslims and Mahadalits.

Manjhi’s decision is also seen as a coming of age moment for Lalu Yadav’s younger son and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

For sometime now Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader Upendra Kushwaha have been giving a tough time to Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) as they started to bargain for more say in the alliance.

Manjhi had made his intentions clear just after the announcement of by-polls as he was willing to fight from at least Jehanabad seat. Kushwaha was also eying this seat but the BJP played a masterstroke and told JDU to contest. Earlier, JDU had announced its decision not to contest the by-elections.

Both Manjhi and Kushwaha were restless after Nitish Kumar’s return to the NDA fold as they feared lesser representation in coming elections. On the other hand, Lalu Yadav, serving jail sentence after found guilty in fodder scam cases, and his party also knew that a MY (Muslim-Yadav) combination is not not enough to win elections.

After Lalu’s incarceration, Mahagathbandhan leader Tejashwi Yadav, with the support of the Congress, tried to mount all-out attack against Nitish and the BJP by alleging misuse of the CBI against his family. Tejashwi continued his effort to lure Kushwaha and Manjhi into the Mahagathbandhan.

Kushwaha was looking more rebellious but after meeting with Amit Shah, he announced his decision to continue support to NDA candidates in the by-elections. One of his close associates said, “Hamne faisla kiya hai ki batashe ke liye mandir nahi todenge.”

But Manjhi became more vocal and demanded a Rajya Sabha seat from the NDA.

Meanwhile, in its effort to woo Dalits, Tejashwi offered Rajya Sabha seat to Mayawati which she humbly declined. Then on Tuesday, Lalu’s close aid and RJD MLA Bhola Yadav said his party has extended open offer to Manjhi.

Political circles were abuzz that talks were on between both the parties. Danish Rizwan, one of the close associate of Manjhi, conveyed to the RJD camp that his leader was ready to switch side if HAM gets respectful representation in Mahagathbandhan. On Wednesday morning, Tejashwi dropped in at Manjhi’s residence and the deal was finalised.

With the Muslim-Yadav combination, with about 30 percent vote share (Muslims – 16 percent, Yadav – 14 percent), already in Mahagathbandhan kitty, Manjhi’s entry means he will influence about 10 percent Mahadalit votes. Manjhi comes from Mushhar community.

After Manjhi’s exit, Kushwaha is likely to up the ante as he too is considered leader of Koeri community which constitutes roughly seven percent vote share.
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