Jitam Ram Manjhi quits NDA to join RJD-led Mahagathbandhan
PM Modi might seriously want to consider BJP's position vis-à-vis its smaller allies. Now, in a serious jolt to NDA, former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi has decided to ditch them and join the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan. This move comes after a meeting with former deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav. This deal also signifies Lalu Prasad Yadav's son Tejaswi's coming-of-age moment. Here's more about it.
First off, who is Jitam Ram Manjhi?
Manjhi, a Mahadalit, is a part of the poor Mushhar community. He secretly educated himself and in 1980 left his clerical job to join politics, getting elected six times. After serving as minister in Congress/RJD governments, in 2005, Manjhi joined Nitish Kumar's JD(U). In 2014, he was made CM. But, following a showdown with mentor Nitish, he resigned in 2015.
Now, is Manjhi's decision to walk out surprising?
After splitting from Nitish, Manjhi formed Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and forged a pre-poll alliance with BJP. However, ever since Nitish's return to the NDA fold, Manjhi and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader Upendra Kushwaha have been insecure about their position. Manjhi made a pitch for the Jehanabad assembly bypoll seat, which Kushwaha was also eyeing. So, BJP asked JD(U) to contest it.
What was the immediate reason for the split?
However, the last straw was when Manjhi's party was overlooked for the upcoming RS polls. Manjhi declared that HAM be allotted a seat or else the party would not support NDA in the upcoming bypolls and 2019 LS elections. He claimed that BJP failed to acknowledge his party though workers were putting in long hours and working hard to strengthen NDA's footprints in Bihar.
How did Manjhi come to an agreement with Tejaswi?
While these events were unfolding, Tejaswi had mounted an attack against Nitish and BJP for using the state's CBI machinery to incarcerate his father. He also tried luring Manjhi and Kushwaha. To woo Dalits, Tejaswi offered an RS seat to Nitish's former blue-eyed boy. Manjhi willingly came on-board after assurances of "respectable representation" in the Mahagathbandhan.
What does this mean for Bihar politics?
This event signifies the re-alignment of political forces before the 2019 LS elections. The RJD-Congress combine have been trying to weave a Muslim-Yadav-Dalit alliance since long. Reportedly, they earlier extended the RS seat to BSP supremo Mayawati, who humbly declined. Now, with 30% Muslim-Yadav votes and 10% Mahadalit votes in its kitty, will the Mahagathbandhan up the ante against the ruling BJP-JD(U)?