PATNA: Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday brought relief to BJP by withdrawing his party Hindustani Awam Morcha’s (HAM) claim on the Jehanabad Assembly seat, but the crisis in NDA festered due to the quarrel between the two factions of another ally, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).
In a day of fast-changing political developments, NDA leaders were surprised by reports claiming that Manjhi had unilaterally announced senior leader Anil Kumar as the HAM candidate for the southern constituency. But he himself denied it and later clarified that his party would not contest in the upcoming bypolls.
“All parties insisted on getting this seat after we staked our claim. Now we have authorised BJP to choose the candidate for the seat. I do not want these bypolls to result in a situation like in the recent Rajasthan bypolls,” said the 73-year-old Dalit leader, who had hinted a few days ago that his party could walk out of NDA if it did not get to contest for the Jehanabad seat.
RLSP leader and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, who reportedly played a role in HAM not getting the seat, upped the ante and demanded the seat for his party. BJP is keen on contesting in Jehanabad like in the two other seats going for the March 11 bypolls. But Kushwaha argued that RLSP must get the Jehanabad seat as its candidate Praveen Kumar had emerged the runner-up in the 2015 Assembly polls.
Sources said Kushwaha’s claims for the seat met fierce objections from the faction in the party led by Jehanabad MP Arun Kumar. “He (Arun Kumar) has made it clear that it is either a leader from his group or a BJP leader who contests. He is opposed to Kushwaha fielding one of his chosen men,” said a BJP leader familiar with the developments.
“If the situation persists, we (BJP) will finally field our candidate in Jehanabad like in Araria Lok Sabha seat and the Bhabhua Assembly seat. The candidates will be announced soon,” added the leader.
Meanwhile, RJD leader Sarfaraz Alam, who was a JD(U) MLA till he resigned from the party and the Assembly on February 10, filed his nomination papers for the Araria seat. Alam is the son of Araria’s former MP Mohamad Taslimuddin, who passed away in September 2017 due to illness.