PATNA: Dissident leaders of Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), led by former Bihar chief minister and Dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, on Sunday removed him as the party’s national president and named a little-known leader in that post as a precursor to the group’s merger with the state’s ruling JD(U).
Narendra Singh, a former minister and founder-member of HAM who leads the dissident group, said Manjhi’s decision to quit NDA and join the RJD-led Opposition alliance on February 28 did not have the support of a majority of the party’s leaders and workers.
At a conference of the two-year-old party attended by hundreds of leaders and workers, the influential upper-caste leader announced that Manjhi was removed as the party’s national president and replaced by Gajendra Manjhi as per a unanimously adopted resolution.
“HAM is still with NDA. Manjhi quit the alliance because of his own personal interests while an overwhelming majority of the party feels it is and should remain with NDA,” said Singh, a former JD(U) leader who was among the founders of HAM under Manjhi’s leadership in 2015. Singh was expelled by JD(U) along with six other ministers in February 2015 for owing allegiance to Manjhi ahead of a trust vote that he faced – and lost – in the Assembly.
Sources said the HAM faction mentored by Singh would merge with the ruling JD(U) on Monday.
“Narendra Singh’s politics has been strongly anti-Lalu from the beginning. In the early 1990s, even when he was a minister in Lalu’s cabinet, he had raised the banner of protest against him. He is keen to continue his anti-Lalu politics by staying in Nitish Kumar’s camp,” said a HAM leader close to him.
The split in HAM is believed to be a jolt to Manjhi, who served as Bihar CM between May 20, 2014 and February 20, 2015 after JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar stepped down following his party’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls and anointed him in the post. Manjhi was then forced to leave the post to allow Kumar to occupy it again.
“This development is not going to impact our party in any way. Narendra Singh has lost his mental balance. He had ceased to be a member of HAM a long time ago,” said HAM spokesperson Danis Rizwan, who is close to Manjhi.