FORMER BIHAR chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who broke away from Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) to join the NDA, is learnt to be “upset” at the BJP not fulfilling its commitments to the Mahadalit leader before he joined the saffron-led alliance in 2015. While not making clear what exactly the commitment was, his party — the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), or HAM(S) — however, said that it will not raise the issue before the Presidential election on July 17. “We have some issues but our immediate priority is to see NDA president candidate Ram Nath Kovind winning handsomely. Manjhi-ji has always spoken about fielding a Scheduled Caste candidate for the post (of President),” HAM(S) spokesperson Danish Rizwan said.
Manjhi did not speak on the issue. Senior HAM(S) leader and former Bihar minister Mahachandra Prasad Singh only said, “It is true that Jitan Ram Manjhi has not been given his due by the BJP… they had made some commitment to him (before joining the NDA in 2015). A source in the party claimed that Manjhi was promised the post of Governor.
He had also had a tiff with fellow NDA constituent and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan over the “Mahadalit base” claims. LJP won only two seats in the 2015 polls, and HAM(S) is represented in the Assembly only by Manjhi, who won from Imamganj but lost from his second seat, Maqdumpur. Rizwan said a leader of Manjhi’s stature “should be given his due”, irrespective of the party’s electoral performance. “We will meet BJP president Amit Shah after the election for the President. There has been expectation but no rancour. It is an internal matter of the NDA,” he said.
The BJP downplayed the “resentment” angle. A senior party leader said: “We do not know what Manjhi was promised. It is up to the (BJP) central leadership to take up such matter. There are no problems within the NDA.”