Patna / Gaya : Suspense appears to have become a key word in the pre election scenario in Bihar. After giving BJP a run for its money during the seat sharing negotiations and almost schizophrenic vacillations, former CM and HAM(S) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi is now keeping everybody guessing about his own electoral plans. Sources close to Manjhi say that though the ex CM has been repeatedly advised by the BJP leadership against himself contesting the election, Manjhi is yet to take a final call in the matter.
Political analysts attribute two reasons to BJP’s perceived reservations about Manjhi taking personal plunge in the assembly election arena. First, if Manjhi himself contests the election, his services can not be fully utilised for state level campaigning, as even in the last assembly election in which several JD(U) candidates registered landslide victories in the Magadh region, Jitan Manjhi, contesting as the JD(U) candidate from Makhdumpur constituency of Jahanabad district won by a very modest margin of about 5000 votes and as such, he will have to fight with his back to the wall to retain the Makhdumpur seat.
Second and perhaps more important reason why, as per sources, BJP does not want Jitan Manjhi to contest the election is that several opinion polls show it to be a very close contest and in case of post election political fluidity, it would be difficult to contain Manjhi’s Chief Ministerial ambitions and just as a pre emptive move, the major alliance partner would not like to take chances. Though it is not necessary to be an MLA to become Chief Minister, non membership of the house may be used as a ploy to keep Manjhi out of the race, say sources.
In case Manjhi decides to personally join the fray, he will have to make a choice between Makhdumpur constituency of Jahanabad district and Imamganj constituency of Gaya district. Besides being a party hopper, Jitan Ram Manjhi has frequently been changing constituencies.
Beginning with Fatehpur constituency of Gaya district, Manjhi has contested elections from Bodh Gaya, Barachatti and Makhdumpur constituencies. The ex CM also made two unsuccessful attempts to enter Lok Sabha by contesting Gaya reserved Parliamentary constituency, first as a Congress candidate and then on the JD(U) symbol.
If Manjhi decides to contest the assembly election from the Imamganj constituency, the decision, according to Magadh watchers would be more personal than political. Manjhi has a long rivalry with the sitting Imamganj MLA and Bihar Assembly Speaker Udai Narain Chaudhary.
The old rivalry has now virtually been converted into ‘enmity’ in the wake of the Speaker’s prompt declaration of Manjhi as an unattached member of the Bihar assembly following his (Manjhi’s) expulsion from JD(U). Seating plan of the assembly ahead of the crucial vote of confidence also offended Manjhi.
Asked about the possibility of Manjhi contesting the Imamganj seat, Assembly Speaker Udai Narain Chaudhary said that he was least bothered about his opponent’s profile as he has full confidence in his electorate with whom he has all along maintained a live contact. Everybody has a democratic right to contest whichever seat he likes, said Chaudhary.