Got a raw deal in NDA and Grand Alliance, may go it alone in 2020, says Jitan Ram Manjhi

Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday alleged that his Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) got a raw deal in the Lok Sabha polls by the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan as also in the assembly polls four years ago when it was aligned with the BJP-led NDA. Manjhi also declared that HAM may go it alone in the assembly polls next year. There is pressure from party workers that we contest all the 243 Assembly seats since we have been underestimated by both the NDA and the Mahagathbandhan, he told reporters. A meeting of all office-bearers of the party will be held in September where a decision will be taken, he said while launching a state-wide membership drive here intending to induct five lakh primary members. If the sentiment is overwhelmingly in favour of going it alone, we will decide accordingly, said Manjhi who had floated his own party in 2015 after breaking away from Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U). Also read| In the general election too, the party drew a blank and Manjhi himself ended up losing in Gaya. On this, he said only the number of seats is not taken into account in elections. There have been instances of a party not winning a significant number of seats getting recognized by the Election Commission by virtue of vote share. Our vote share is undeniable. In fact, we were never given a chance to realise our full potential by both the coalitions of which we have been a part, Manjhi said. He debunked speculations of returning to the NDA and alleged that the BJP-led government at the Centre has been fooling the people by playing a bogus nationalism card. The prime minister speaks of keeping reservations intact while remaining oblivious to the ways in which quotas are being done away with, Manjhi claimed. There is a proposal to appoint joint secretary level officers through collateral entry. There is no reservation in that process. How can we reconcile ourselves to such a situation when we are in favor of extending reservations to sectors like the judiciary? he said. Manjhi had recently said he was looking forward to contesting the assembly polls in neighboring Jharkhand in alliance with the All Jharkhand Students Union, which is an NDA ally. The HAM founding president had become the chief minister after Nitish Kumar resigned in 2014 taking moral responsibility for the JD(U)s drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls held that year. Less than a year later, when he was asked to step down and make way for the return as chief minister of his political mentor, Manjhi revolted and floated his own party taking some dissident JD(U) leaders along. The BJP, which was then looking for new allies in the backdrop of Kumar having quit the NDA, welcomed Manjhi into the coalition. However, Kumar quit the Grand Alliance in 2017 after the RJD declined to heed demands for the resignation of Tejashwi Yadav as deputy CM following his name cropping up in a money laundering case. A new government was formed with the BJP offering its support and Kumar returning to the NDA, though smaller constituents like the HAM were given no representation in the state council of ministers. Last year, Manjhi quit the NDA and joined the Mahagathbandhan which was followed by his son Santosh Kumar getting elected to the legislative council with the help of the RJD which has the maximum number of MLAs. Besides the RJD and the HAM, the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar comprises the Congress, Upendra Kushwahas RLSP and Mukesh Sahnis Vikassheel Insaan Party.