Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Bihar: Will Manjhi's HAM Quit Mahagathbandhan and Join With BJP Ahead of 2024 Polls

No one expected this political development before the mega opposition meeting in Patna on June 23 to forge strong opposition unity to challenge Narendra Modi's BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections.
HAM president Jitan Ram Manjhi

HAM president Jitan Ram Manjhi. Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Is ruling Mahagathbandhan ally Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) (HAM) of former Bihar Chief Minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi, playing pressure politics for a bargain or ready to join BJP-led (Bharatiya Janata Party) NDA (National Democratic Alliance) ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections? This question came to centre stage on Tuesday after Manjhi's son Santosh Kumar Suman, a minister in the Mahagathbandhan government led by Nitish Kumar, resigned from the cabinet. 

No one expected this political development before the mega opposition meeting in Patna on June 23 to forge strong opposition unity to challenge Narendra Modi's BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections.

Suman, however, said that though he resigned from the cabinet, HAM is still part of Mahagathbandhan and, for the time being, ruled out joining hands with BJP. But Suman made it clear that it all depends on Kumar whether HAM will remain in Mahagathbandhan or not. 

"There was pressure to merge HAM with JD-U, which was not acceptable to us. It was a matter of survival or existence in politics that forced me to resign," Suman told the media.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, Manjhi, along with Suman, also the national president of HAM, visited Bihar Finance Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary, who is considered close to Kumar, to discuss the issues they raised in recent days. After close door talk failed, Suman submitted his resignation to Chaudhary, and Manjhi came out and said that if Kumar accepted his demands, his party would continue with Mahagathbandhan.

Manjhi did not disclose the demands. Interestingly, leaders of RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) and JD-U (Janata Dal-United), two major allies of Mahagathbandhan, downplayed Suman's resignation and claimed it would not affect the coalition government.

It is being speculated here that Manjhi, in his late 70s, a dalit leader known for his walking in and walking out from one after another coalition during the last decade, is eyeing to get a big share for HAM to contest the next Lok Sabha polls from a maximum number of seats by pressurising Kumar-led Mahagathbandhan.

"Manjhi has tasted the power of pressure politics and bargaining in power politics in recent years. The timing of his son Suman's resignation is anything to go by; Manjhi has chosen to put pressure 10 days ahead of the mega opposition meeting here. Top Mahagathbandhan leaders, including Kumar, may not take a chance to lose an ally," a senior JD-U leader said.

In the first week of June, Manjhi himself revealed that HAM is keen to contest from five seats in the next Lok Sabha polls. Manjhi has reportedly demanded five seats from Kumar and termed it a respectable share of seats. He also announced that HAM has been preparing in all 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state to point out that his party may not hesitate to break the alliance if not given that number of seats to contest.

According to sources in HAM close to Manjhi, the party(HAM) plans to contest from Gaya, Jamui, Aurangabad, Samastipur and Purnea Lok Sabha seats.

Manjhi belongs to the Mushahar community, one of the most marginalised and backward sections. He is known for opposing the aggressive Hindutva politics of the BJP in recent years. Manjhi angered BJP leaders by repeatedly claiming that Ram was an imaginary figure.

A political watcher said Manjhi is a clever politician who knows what to do and when.

"Manjhi may not need BJP, but BJP badly needs him because the saffron party is starving of an ally in Bihar. BJP will also find it difficult to share five seats with Manjhi. BJP is already facing a difficult task to manage two rival groups of LJP (Lokshakti Janata Party) led by Union minister Pasupati Kumar Paras and Chirag Paswan, both dalit leaders".

Manjhi, in mid-April 2023, met senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, which created abuzz in political circles as Manjhi had expressed repeated unhappiness over not being given a second berth in the state cabinet by Kumar.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram