AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi will address a rally in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and proposed NRC in a Muslim-dominated district of Bihar on Sunday, a development that has raised political heat in the state by a few notches.
While the ruling NDA has sought to attach no importance to the visit of the Hyderabad MP, whose party met with its first electoral success in the state in a recent by-poll, the opposition Grand Alliance is flustered over the decision of one of its constituents to share the stage with Owaisi at Kishanganj on December 29.
There is nationwide outrage over the black legislation (CAA) brought in by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. The Act discriminates against Muslims for whom all parties have done little except pay lip-service. Hence, Owaisi who is being looked at by minorities across the country with hope is coming to Bihar to give voice to the anguish of those living in the state, AIMIM state president Akhtarul Iman told PTI.
He said We had extended invitation to former chief minister and president of Hindustani Awam Morcha Jitan Ram Manjhi since he, like us, believes in building a front of Muslims and dalits. We are glad that he has agreed.
While Manjhi was not available for comment, his partys national spokesman Danish Rizwan confirmed that the HAM president will share the stage with Owaisi.
Notably when AIMIMs Qamrul Hoda snatched the Kishanganj assembly seat from Congress in the by-polls held in October, the outcome was hailed by Manjhi who had said it would pave the way for Dalit-Muslim unity.
The five-party Grand Alliance is led by Lalu Prasads RJD, and comprises besides Congress and HAM Upendra Kushwahas RLSP and Mukesh Sahnis VIP.
Manjhis decision left the RJD-Congress combine fuming.
We are surprised. A veteran politician like Manjhi should know that outside Bihar wherever Owaisi has fielded his candidates it has only helped the BJP. If that is Manjhis intention, he would do better to return to the NDA, RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary said.
The views were echoed by Congress MLC and AICC media panelist Prem Chandra Mishra, who dubbed the AIMIM as the B-team of BJP and charged Manjhi with helping communal forces in the name of fighting them.
Notably, Manjhi had floated his outfit in 2015 when he quit the JD(U) in protest against party pressure to step down as chief minister to make way for the return of his political mentor Nitish Kumar.
He started off as an NDA ally in the assembly polls held later that year and put up an unimpressive performance ending up as the only winning candidate from his party though he lost one of the two seats he had contested.
Less than a year after Kumars return to the NDA, Manjhi crossed over to the Grand Alliance and clinched a berth in the legislative council for his son Santosh with the help of RJD, which has the largest number of MLAs.
However, he threw a fit ahead of the Lok Sabha polls when his party was given only three seats to contest in the state where the total number is 40.
After he drew a blank, losing in Gaya to a JD(U) lightweight, the former chief minister sought to apportion blame on Tejashwi Yadavs leadership of the RJD.
When by-elections were held in a number of assembly segments two months ago, he fielded his candidate from Nathnagar in Bhagalpur despite the RJD being in the fray, helping the JD(U) to retain the seat by a whisker.
Meanwhile, JD(U) spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said Manjhi is known to change loyalties at the drop of the hat. Hence there is no point in commenting on his flip-flops. But we do not understand why a rally should be staged in protest against CAA-NRC. The Act had been passed when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already made it clear that will not be implemented in Bihar.
State BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand tweeted the divisive politics of @AsadOwaisi is based purely on provocation of Muslims which wont succeed in Bihar. As #JitanRam Manjhi is doing joint rally with Owaisi, the Grand Alliance seems to have fallen apart in Bihar. The politics of Grand Alliance stands exposed.