PATNA: In yet another indication that all was not well within the opposition "Mahagathbandhan" (grand alliance) in Bihar, RJD on Friday crossed swords with its ally Hindustani Awam Morcha after its president Jitan Ram Manjhi threw his hat in the ring for the post of Chief Minister if the alliance attained power next year.
Manjhi, who had served as the chief minister from May, 2014 to February, 2015, made a statement to this effect on Thursday here while interacting with the media and also spoke about the inexperience of RJD heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav the younger son of Lalu Prasad, already projected by RJD as its chief ministerial candidate.
Congress - another partner of the opposition grouping - has also been skeptical on projection of Tejashwi Yadav as the coalition CM nominee for the 2020 Bihar poll.
Notably, the HAM president who had floated the party after quitting the JD(U) in protest against having been asked to step down and make way for the return of his mentor Nitish Kumar used to be a staunch admirer of the young RJD leader, who made his political debut at a young age of 25 in the 2015 assembly polls and was straight away made the Deputy CM.
However, Manjhi who succeeded in securing a berth in the legislative council for his son with the RJDs help after quitting the NDA and joining grand alliance has grown skeptical of Yadavs leadership since the Lok Sabha polls dismal showing.
The five-party formation was drubbed in the Parliamentary election in Bihar and the RJD which had contested 19 out of the 40 seats in the state- drew a blank.
Dissatisfaction with Yadavs leadership, among the RJDs alliance partners, has grown in the months that followed the general elections as the party heir apparent remained in sulk for long, staying away from all political activities and refusing to attend a month-long monsoon session of the assembly despite being the Leader of the Opposition.
Moreover, many eyebrows were raised when Manjhi recently met Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, a former RJD MP and strong critic of Tejashwi Yadav, who went on to float his own Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) after Lalu Prasad expelled him for anti-party activities.
Yadav has been going to town with his plans to form a Third Front in Bihar where the bloated, loosely knit Mahagathbandhan is posing a feeble challenge to the NDA comprising the BJP, Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U) and Ram Vilas Paswans LJP.
The JAP chief has also been saying that if Manjhi joined hands with him and their alliance came to power, he was ready to back the latter for the Chief Ministers post.
Reacting to Manjhis latest averments, RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary shot off a statement accusing the HAM president of impatience and complaining that he did not raise the issue of leadership at the mahagathbandhan meeting earlier this week but was doing so now in public.
He is making himself an object of ridicule besides giving our opponents a chance to sneer at us.
If he has any ambitions or grievances, he should air these within the coalition and not try to make his views public, Tiwary said.
Stung by the public rebuke from its senior coalition partner, HAM spokesman Danish Rizwan came out with a blistering counter-attack accusing Tiwary of being responsible for Lalu Prasads imprisonment.
Then with the breakaway Janata Dal faction Samata Party, Tiwary was one of those who had filed petitions in the 1990s seeking a CBI inquiry in the multi-crore fodder scam, in which Prasad was accused and subsequently convicted and awarded prison sentences.
Tiwary, who has been in and out of the RJD in his long political career, had publicly expressed regret over having been one of the petitioners in the fodder scam after Prasads conviction in as many as four cases, which has also disqualified the charismatic leader from contesting elections.
Recalling Tiwarys humiliating exit from JD(U) a few years ago before he returned to the RJD, Rizwan said in a strongly-worded statement that the veteran leader has never contested a municipal poll and lacks the moral and political standing to question Manjhi, who has proven his mettle in various capabilities, including as a Chief Minister.