Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) has formed an alliance with Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) ahead of the elections in the state later this year.
"We have forged an alliance with Janata Dal (United) and have become a part of the NDA. There has been no discussion about seat-sharing in the next Bihar Assembly elections," news agency ANI quoted Manjhi as saying.
A HAM(S) spokesperson earlier in the day had said the party would join the NDA ahead of the Bihar elections.
The number of seats the party will get to contest in the upcoming elections was never an issue for it as the HAM(S) will join the NDA for the state's development, said spokesperson Danish Rizwan. The party is firmly standing with Prime minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for their development work, he added.
Manjhi had earlier severed ties with the grand alliance after spending two-and-a-half years in the opposition coalition, comprising RJD, Congress, RLSP and Bollywood set designer-turned-politician Mukesh Sahni’s Vikasshil Insaan Party (VIP). The HAM(S) chief had also postponed a meeting scheduled on Wednesday with some non-NDA and non-Grand Alliance parties, including the Jan Adhikar Party of former MP Pappu Yadav, to discuss the strategy for the elections.
Manjhi met the chief minister last Thursday and is believed to have held talks on seat sharing. The HAM(S) wants to contest 15-20 seats, mostly in the Magadha region to which Manjhi belongs. But the JD(U) is reportedly willing to leave for it 10-12 seats.
Manjhi is the lone member of his party in the assembly. But his induction would help the NDA’s outreach to Dalits, particularly other than Paswans who form the support base of the LJP. Dalits in Bihar are over 16% of the electorate and about 40 seats in the 243-member house are reserved for them.
Manjhi had quit the JD(U) in 2015 after being forced to step down as the chief minister to make way for the return of Kumar. He later formed the HAM(S) and contested 21 seats in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections as an NDA constituent. With the return of Kumar to the NDA in July 2017, he walked out of it to join hands with the opposition grouping.