Manjhi threatens to pull out of grand alliance in Bihar

Manjhi threatens to pull out of grand alliance in Bihar Patna, Nov 8 (PTI) Disarray in the opposition GrandAlliance in Bihar once again came to the fore on Friday whenformer Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhis fresh threat ofpulling out of the five-party formation was pooh-poohed byother coalition partners as his pressure tactics.

They expressed the view that the Hindustani Awam Morchachief was merely trying to play hardball and would ultimatelyfall in line.

Manjhi had announced at the meeting of his partysnational executive meeting here Thursday night it will go italone in Jharkhand where it has never contested an electionso far and field its candidates in all the 243 assemblysegments in Bihar when Vidhan Sabha polls were held next year.

The mercurial leader, however, was yet to make up hismind as to which seats to contest in Jharkhand whereelections have been announced and polling would commence bythe end of this month.

His announcement of fighting all the Bihar seats was inline with his repeated threats issued in the aftermath of thedrubbing received by the grand alliance in the Lok Sabhapolls.

HAM had lost all the five Lok Sabha seats it hadcontested, including Gaya which Manjhi himself lost to arelative newcomer Vijay Manjhi of JD(U).

Speculations are rife that after having gravitated to thegrand alliance last year, when he quit the NDA and ended upclinching a legislative council berth for his son from thequota of the RJD the wily leader may be eyeing a return tothe formation headed by the BJP which seems on the upswing inthe state as well as the country.

However, Manjhi firmly denied any plans to return to theNDA when asked by reporters on Friday.

NDA sources say that Manjhis entry is likely to meetwith stiff opposition from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whoheads the JD(U) and against whom the HAM president hadrevolted before floating his own outfit.

Besides the LJP of Ram Vilas Paswan would also not liketo share his political space with another dalit leader.

Meanwhile, RJD national vice president Raghuvansh PrasadSingh dismissed Manjhis latest outburst, saying 'he is simplyengaging in a bit of shadow boxing to enthuse his partys rankand file.

'He may be having some demands which are not being met.

But that happens to all parties in a coalition. Once theprocess of campaign for Bihar assembly elections picks up, heis going to find no other abode except the grand alliance'.

The views were echoed by Congress Rajya Sabha memberAkhilesh Prasad Singh, who hoped that his current foul moodnotwithstanding, Manjhi will be firmly with the grand alliancewhen the poll bugle is sounded in Bihar.

Interestingly, former Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni whose support Manjhi has been counting on since the recentby-polls, ended up at a press conference addressed jointly byleaders of the grand alliance and Left parties as a show ofsolidarity among forces opposed to the BJP-led coalition,which rules the Centre as well as the state.

The press conference was organized by RLSP chief UpendraKushwaha on Friday and Manjhi took care to ensure no leader ofhis party attended the same.

However, RLSP national secretary general Madhaw Anand toldPTI 'we are not able to understand the grouse of Manjhi, whois a senior and respected leader.

'He seems to be impatient about things like the grandalliance chief ministerial candidate and the respective shareof seats for each constituent. We can only urge him not tocause more damage to the Mahagathbandhan by haste,' Anandsaid.

Anand was hinting at Manjhi having fielded his candidatefrom Nathnagar assembly segment where by-polls were held lastmonth and which the RJD lost by a margin less than the numberof votes secured by the HAM candidate.

Taking a cue from Manjhi, Sahni had also fielded hispartys candidate from Simri Bakhtiyarpur though it did notcome in the way of the RJD wresting the seat from JD(U) by acomfortable margin.

Manjhis defiant stance during elections had followedrepeated attacks on RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on whoseinexperience he blamed the Lok Sabha debacle of grand allianceand threw his hat in the ring for being projected as theopposition coalitions cm candidate, much to the annoyance ofLalu Prasads party. PTI NACSNS SNS