PATNA: The small and sulking Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), led by former Bihar chief minister and Dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, is raring to extract its pound of flesh when Rajya Sabha polls in the state are round the corner.
The 73-year-old Manjhi, who is the only MLA of his party that is a partner of the ruling NDA, said on Sunday that he wants a Rajya Sabha seat to be allotted to a leader of his party. Unless his wish is fulfilled by BJP and JD(U), leaders and workers of HAM would campaign for the two NDA parties’ NDA candidates in the upcoming bypolls for one Lok Sabha seat and two Assembly seats, he said.
“I want that NDA announces at least one HAM leader among its candidates for the six Rajya Sabha seats in Bihar. If they do not do so, leaders and workers of my party will not campaign for the coalition’s candidates in the bypolls,” said Manjhi, who is the national president of HAM.
Bypolls for Araria Lok Sabha seat and the Assembly seats of Jehanabad and Bhabhua are scheduled for March 11. Polls for six Rajya Sabha seats from Bihar are set to be held on March 23.
Manjhi, who served as Bihar CM for seven months since May 20, 2014 after Nitish Kumar stepped down following JD(U)’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls, has been constantly airing his dissatisfaction with NDA’s decisions. His insistence on fielding a HAM candidate for Jehanabad Assembly seat was brushed aside by NDA and the seat was allotted to JD(U) earlier this month.
Manjhi was unhappy to find his wish for a ministerial berth for his son or son-in-law rebuffed when JD(U) formed a government with BJP by deserting the grand alliance in July 2017. BJP has also paid no heed to his open expressions of desire for a gubernatorial position.
“There is no discontent in NDA. Manjhi is a senior, respected leader who has always strengthened NDA,” said senior BJP leader and health minister Mangal Pandey, declining to elaborate on the crisis faced by the coalition.