New Delhi: In a big blow to the opposition unity in Bihar, the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi quit the Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) ahead of the state Assembly election, scheduled to be held in October-November. With the exit of HAM, the opposition Grand Alliance now comprises the RJD, Congress, former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) and ex-Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni’s Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP). Also Read - Bihar Assembly Election 2020: PM Modi Endorses Nitish Kumar, Gives Him Pat on The Back For 'Sushasan'; Makes Veiled Attack on Lalu
“HAM will no longer be a constituent of the grand alliance. The party has decided to leave the Mahagathbandhan,” party spokesman Danish Rizwan told reporters. He asserted that the decision to walk out of the five-party opposition coalition in Bihar was taken at the HAM’s core committee meeting which took place at Manjhi’s residence on Thursday. Also Read - Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Polls to be Fought Under Nitish Kumar's Leadership, Says Nadda, Discusses Seat-sharing With CM
Meanwhile, the HAM’s core committee authorised the Dalit leader to take a call on whether to merge with another party or coalition, or go to the hustings alone, a top party leader said. Also Read - Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Ram Vilas Paswan Unwell, Tasks Son Chirag to Take Final Call on Alliance
The HAM blamed the RJD for the failure to form a coordination committee to iron out the differences within the alliance for better functioning. “Leaders who do not listen to the constituent partners, will they listen to the people after coming to power?”asked party spokesman Rizwan. The barb was apparently directed at Lalu Prasad’s RJD, which has already declared his son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav as its chief ministerial candidate.
“Our leader Jitan Ram Manjhi has categorically stated that there is no point in continuing with the alliance which does not follow democratic norms and listen to its partners,” Rizwan said.
Though the party did not declare which coalition it will align with after walking out of the RJD-led Grand Alliance, close watchers of the evolving political scene in Bihar said Manjhi could veer towards the JD(U)-led NDA once again.
After the JD(U)’s dismal performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had appointed Manjhi as his successor. Nitish owned moral responsibility for the defeat and relinquished the top job, but a year later wanted Manjhi to vacate the post for him. Manjhi formed HAM, quit the NDA in February 2018, and joined the Grand Alliance. The party contested three Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections as part of the Grand Alliance but drew a blank.
Assambly elections are due in the state in October- November and the Election Commission has indicated it would go ahead with the electoral exercise notwithstanding concerns expressed by oposition parties that it could lead to further spread of the coronavirus disease.