Amid political posturing from the Opposition RJD and Congress, former Bihar chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) head Jitan Ram Manjhi has pressed claim for another ministerial berth and an MLC position for his party.
Manjhi’s son Santosh Kumar Suman is already a minister in the Nitish Kumar-led government, and the party has four MLAs in the Assembly, including the former CM.
At a party meeting on Wednesday, Manjhi said, “We are expecting one more ministerial berth and MLC position. We are sure CM Nitish Kumar would fulfil our demands.”
Cabinet expansion is expected any time after January 14.
Trying to play down Manjhi’s remarks, HAM(S) spokesperson Danish Rizwan told The Indian Express: “Let us not read political meaning to our leader’s demand. We had been promised two ministerial berths earlier…. There is no political instability; the NDA is as strong as ever.”
Manjhi’s statement, however, comes at a time the principal Opposition parties – the RJD and the Congress – have been trying to win over Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after the JD(U) expressed strong reservations in the aftermath of six of seven party MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh joining the BJP.
Senior RJD leaders Shyam Rajak had recently claimed that 17 of 43 JD (U) MLAs in Bihar had been in touch with RJD, a claim dismissed by the JD(U).
Another senior RJD leader, Uday Narayan Choudhary, had urged Nitish to help Tejashwi Yadav become the chief minister and said that the Opposition could then project Nitish as the Prime Minister candidate in 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Ruling out any political instability, the Chief Minister said on Wednesday, “We are not in touch with anyone.”
JD(U) national president R C P Singh also dismissed any political instability.
The NDA has 125 MLAs in a House of 243 – BJP and JD(U) have 74 and 43 legislators, respectively, while HAM(S) and Vikasshil Insaan Party, the other NDA constituents, have four MLAs each.
The RJD-led Grand Alliance has 110 MLAs, 12 short of simple majority.
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