July 03, 2020

Jitan Ram Manjhi poses new worry for JD(U), BJP in Bihar by eyeing 50 Assembly seats

PATNA: Former Bihar chief minister and Dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi on Saturday posed a fresh worry for the ruling JD(U) and BJP by making it clear that he aims at having “at least 50 seats” in the state Assembly after the next polls.

Manjhi, who is the national president of the fledgling Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and happens to be its only MLA in Bihar, also said he would like the state to have two deputy chief ministers instead of the present one.

“I urge the extremely backward castes, minorities and Scheduled Castes to enable me to have at least 50 seats in the state Assembly. I can then eradicate all the problems they have been facing endlessly in Bihar,” said the 73-year-old leader at a ‘milan samaroh’ in which a number of people from a minority community joined his party.

HAM is currently in NDA and had contested Bihar’s 2015 Lok Sabha polls as an NDA partner, winning only one of the 19 seats in which it had fielded candidates. Manjhi has been sulking since Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) allied afresh with BJP after a gap of four years and formed an NDA government in Bihar in July 2017.

“When I was chief minister, I had taken a number of decisions for the uplift of the minorities and disadvantaged sections, but those decisions were not respected after I left office,” said Manjhi, who served as CM between May 20, 2014 and February 20, 2015. After JD(U)’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, CM Nitish Kumar had stepped down and anointed Manjhi as the CM. Manjhi was forced to leave the post for Kumar seven months later.

The Dalit leader’s statements worsened the dilemma for the four NDA parties in Bihar – JD(U), BJP, LJP and RLSP – who reportedly do not want to allot more than ten seats for HAM to contest in the next Assembly poll.

Although the Assembly poll in Bihar is due in October 2020, Manjhi also raised JD(U)’s hackles by saying that he favours the poll to be simultaneously held along with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Courtesy: Express News Service

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