A meeting between Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tej Pratap Yadav and Jitan Ram Manjhi, whose Hindustani Awam Morcha is an ally of the ruling alliance in Bihar, has set off a buzz about possible realignment of political forces in the state.
The dust has not settled yet in West Bengal, where the BJP’s import Mukul Roy has “returned home” to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, when a similar homecoming of a leader to the Grand Alliance in Bihar is getting a somewhat intense speculation.
The BJP, part of the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) is a key member, has run into some friction with Mr Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) over an explosion at a madrasa in Banka district, 250 km from Patna.
Responding to BJP leaders who said these are places for anti-national activities, Mr Manjhi said, “It is not right to target a community for political gains.”
गरीब दलित जब आगे बढ़े तो नक्सली,
गरीब मुसलमान जब मदरसे में पढ़े तो आतंकी,
भाई साहब ऐसी मानसिकता से बाहर निकलिए,यह राष्ट्र की एकता और अखंडता के लिए ठीक नहीं।#हम बाँका बम विस्फोट की घटना की उच्चस्तरीय जाँच की माँग करतें हैं।
— Jitan Ram Manjhi (@jitanrmanjhi) June 10, 2021
Then a move by Tej Pratap Yadav – the elder son of jailed RJD leader Lalu Yadav – added fuel to the likely homecoming fire of the HAM chief. Mr Yadav, whose house is just a few steps away from Mr Manjhi’s in Patna, went to the HAM chief’s residence today.
Later, Mr Yadav said he told Mr Manjhi that he’s free to return to the Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan, from which Mr Manjhi had pulled out in August last year ahead of the assembly election two months later. Mr Manjhi’s exit from the Grand Alliance was seen to weaken the opposition’s attempt to defeat the NDA in the election.
BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi in a statement denied there was any friction with Mr Manjhi’s party with the NDA in Bihar. He stepped in and asked everyone in the Bihar NDA to stop making statements against each other.
“Former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi is a senior leader of the NDA, so there should not be any rush to take political meaning of any public representative’s courtesy visit to him,” said Mr Modi, who was Deputy Chief Minister in the previous term of the Nitish Kumar government.
“Jitan Ram Manjhi… is a well-known leader of Dalits in Bihar. They have also seen the misrule of RJD… The NDA is unbreakable and the government will complete its term,” Mr Modi said.
पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री जीतन राम मांझी एनडीए के वरिष्ठ नेता हैं, इसलिए किसी जनप्रतिनिधि की उनसे शिष्टाचार भेंट का राजनीतिक मायने निकालने की जल्दबाजी नहीं होनी चाहिए।
— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) June 11, 2021
Referring to the incident in Banka, Mr Modi asked NDA leaders to speak in their internal forums instead of making public statements on sensitive issues. “NDA is a democratic alliance, so all the constituent parties can have different opinion on various issues related to the people,” Mr Modi said.