Manjhi meets Modi; speculation on tie-up mounts
Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national Capital, further fuelling the speculation that he might align with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming state Assembly elections even as the Mahadalit leader maintained silence over the issue.
Parrying queries over any pre-poll alliance, he spoke about the post-election tie-up and claimed that he would partner with a formation, which did not include Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar, his former mentor and now a bitter critic.
Manjhi launched his own outfit Hindustani <g data-gr-id="18">Awam</g> Morcha, after his unceremonious exit from the post of Chief Minister and JD(U).
Asked about Rashtriya Janata Dal chief (RJD) Lalu Prasad Yadav's overtures to him to join a grand alliance, which is likely to include Kumar, against the BJP, he said a tie-up between Yadav and Kumar is unlikely to work as RJD voters would not support Kumar, while the Janata Dal (United) leader has a small voter base.
"If there is a need to ally with any party following the election I will go with a formation which does not include Nitish Kumar," he said.
He claimed he met Modi to raise the issue of farmers' plight in Bihar and demanded a CBI inquiry into alleged irregularities in paddy procurement.
Manjhi is being eyed by the BJP-led NDA as well as Yadav as their new ally as the Mahadalit community has the potential of tilting the scale in favour of either of the two alliances.