Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Tuesday charged the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) with trying to impose its will on coalition partners and sought to remind Lalu Prasad's party that it was not capable of taking on the BJP-led coalition in the state assembly polls on its own steam.
Manjhi, who heads the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and has been with the RJD-led Grand Alliance since March 2018 when he walked out of the NDA, iterated his demand for a "coordination committee" comprising representatives of all five coalition members which could take a decision on issues like leadership
and inclusion of more parties in the formation.
He, however, made it clear that his stance must not be seen as his having a problem with Tejashwi Yadav, whom the RJD has declared its Chief Ministerial candidate.
"I have no problems with Tejashwi. Some Congress leaders have spoken in favour of making former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar the face. I have no problems with that either. My point is, the decision must be taken after a consensus among all coalition partners", Manjhi said here.
The HAM president was speaking a day after Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) founder Mukesh Sahni called on him at his residence here, triggering speculations that the minor partners in the Grand Alliance might be weighing their options.
"I do not have a problem with the RJD asserting its position as a major coalition partner. In fact, I have been proposing that let the RJD have two of its members in the coordination committee and the other four constituents have one each. But coordination committee is we must have,he said.
He also took exception to a recent statement by RJD state unit chief Jagadanand Singh who had turned down the demands for a coordination committee with the brusque remark, "Lalu Prasad is the all in all in Grand Alliance. Those not agreeing with his commands are free to leave".
"This smacks of arrogance, of an attitude of taking ones support base for granted, Manjhi said and pointed out "the RJD should remember the poll outcome of 2010, when its Muslim-Yadav combination was intact and it enjoyed the support of Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party".
The RJD-LJP combine which had fought separately from the Congress, was trounced in the assembly polls, winning less than 30 seats in the 243-strong assembly. LJP sided with NDA in 2014 and has been performing spectacularly in Lok Sabha polls.
The RJDs own stock rose dramtically in 2015 when it contested in alliance with Congress and JD(U), headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U). With 80 seats, the RJD emerged as the single largest party in the assembly and shared power until Kumar bolted out of the alliance in 2017.
Manjhi also said "I am of the view that Left parties and emerging forces like Pappu Yadav should also be included in Grand Alliance. This possibility can be explored only by a
"If most are in disagreement, I will give up. But one party cannot decide what should or should not happen in the coalition, Manjhi added.
Yadav, a muscleman-turned-politician who has floated his own outfit Jan Adhikar Party, has been a bitter critic of Tejashwi Yadav. Besides, the younger son of Lalu Prasad is also known to be averse to CPI rising star Kanhaiya Kumar.
"In view of the unhelpful attitude of the RJDs middle-rung leadership, I have sought an appointment with Lalu Prasad (in Ranchi, serving sentences in fodder scam cases)", Manjhi said.
"If things do not materialize by the end of this month, we will have to think of our own course of action since smaller parties like us cannot afford to put preparations on hold when elections are just half a year away, said the volatile leader who has in the past one year given many ultimatums to RJD.