Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was forced to quit two months ago after falling out with the JD(U) leadership, Monday said he was likely to float a political party and ruled out any pre-poll alliance for the state Assembly elections, due this year.
While making it clear that he will not under any circumstances join the formation led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar or RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, Manjhi said he was “not averse” to giving or taking support from the BJP if the situation warranted.
Discounting chances of his entering into a pre-poll alliance with any party, Manjhi said at a meet-the-press here that he may even contest the Bihar polls alone.
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“We have formed a social organisation called Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), which is holding a big public rally on April 20 in Patna to decide the future course of action. About five lakh people are likely to attend it and if the response is good, I may form a new party and contest elections on my own,” Manjhi said.
However, he did not dismiss either offering support or taking support from the BJP to form the next government, but was averse to striking a deal with any formation having Nitish and Lalu.
The new alliance of Lalu, Nitish and Mulayam Singh is short of any ideology, he said, alleging them as “opportunists”.
“Nitish had termed Lalu’s rule as ‘jungle raj’ and Lalu, while accusing Nitish of sending him to jail, had once vowed to be a saviour of Dalits like me…yet he betrayed me,” Manjhi alleged.
Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Manjhi said he is a person with secular credentials.
“Modi cannot be called communal. I find nothing wrong with his secular credentials since he has pledged trying to take along all sections of people with him,” he said.
Manjhi, who was expelled from the JD (U) before he resigned as the chief minister ahead of the crucial trust vote in the state Assembly, had claimed that he formed the new front to ‘expose’ Nitish and the party.
He was later declared as an unattached member in the Bihar Assembly.
Manjhi also came out in defence of Modi vis-à-vis delivery of promises and secularism.
Talking to media persons in ‘Meet the Press’ programme organised by Nagpur Union of Working Journalists, here Monday, Manjhi said, “It is true that different people are talking different things like voting rights of Muslims be taken away, Article 370 be scrapped, common civil code be implemented and Ram temple be built. But Modi’s recent statements and position has shown clear departure (“fluctuation”) which is reassuring” Manjhi said.
When asked if he considers Modi as secular, Manjhi said “What is secularism? Secularism means taking everybody along. Modi is talking of development of all states which means he is taking all along. He has promised to give special package of over Rs 1 lakh crore to Bihar which is unprecedented in recent political history”
Asked why Modi did not come to his rescue during confidence vote on his government in Bihar, Manjhi said “BJP did extend support on the last day. But if they would have done it a week before things would have been different but we had sought no support from BJP so there is no complaint against them”.
He also praised Modi’s cleanliness drive saying it will actually help Dalits by reducing their health problems.
Referring to all former Janta party factions launching a new united front, Manjhi said “This will automatically get us – the group of 18 MLA’s –the JD (U) title. If Subramaniam Swamy can move about in the country as a single-man party why can’t we 18 be a JD (U)”.
Manjhi ruled out getting into any pre-poll alliance in Bihar. “Any alliance would only be post-poll and with any group that will have no allegiance or connection to Nitish Kumar.”
Manjhi was in city to pay visit to Deeksha Bhoomi and meet Dalit leaders. He said his mission is to forge social and political unity of all types of Dalits irrespective of which political party they belong to. “We are organising a huge rally of dalits comprising of about 5 lakh people in Patna on April 20. I feel our Dalit legislator cannot perform to the best of their capacity since they are also representing other sections of the society. Babasaheb Ambedkar had called for separate electorate for Dalits. I think that in the event of separate electorate, Dalit legislators will be able to do their best. So I am going to strongly peach for it on all fora.”
(With PTI inputs)