PATNA: Discords erupted in Dalit leader and former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s party Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and led to the resignation of two top leaders on Wednesday, threatening to weaken the three-year-old party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
HAM state president Brishen Patel and national spokesperson Danish Rizwan resigned separately and levelled allegations against each other in what appeared to be the tipping point of smouldering rifts within the party, which is a constituent of the RJD-led Opposition Grand Alliance.
Patel, a former minister in Bihar, said he was shocked by the fluctuating stand taken by Manjhi and some senior leaders of the party on various issues. He, however, made it clear that he would not join NDA. Sources in HAM said efforts are on to persuade Patel to continue in the party.
“There is no coordination in the party,” said Patel. “Soon after Rahul Gandhi’s rally, while every Grand Alliance leader was praising it, our national spokesperson criticised it, saying the event was a super flop,” he said, referring to Rizwan’s statements about the rally that earned him a show-cause notice from the HAM chief.
Speaking about Manjhi’s criticism of the recent standoff between the West Bengal government and the Centre, Patel said: “When the tigress of Bengal (Banerjee) was courageously resisting the Centre in a democratic manner and getting support from all Opposition parties, I do not know how and why we condemned it”.
Manjhi had publicly disapproved of Banerjee’s dharna, saying she should not have engaged in the act while still being chief minister, at a time when RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav was attending the dharna in Kolkata.
“Patel is a very senior leader, and his grievances will be addressed amicably,” said HAM spokesperson Anamika Paswan after meeting Manjhi. She, however, strongly condemned Rizwan’s open criticism of Rahul Gandhi’s February 3 rally.
An enraged Rizwan, meanwhile, accused Patel of siphoning off HAM’s funds collected as donations and said the former minister resigned because his wish to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Munger was not being fulfilled.