File image: Former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi
Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) president Jitan Ram Manjhi on August 27 met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar amid speculations of his talks over seat sharing before joining the ruling NDA.
Manjhi paid a visit to Kumar, who is also national president of the JD(U), at his official residence 1, Aney Marg here.
The HAM chief, however, denied having any political deliberations with Kumar and asserted that the talks were centred around local issues and problems. Notably, Manjhi had on August 20 severed his ties with Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) after spending two and a half years in the opposition coalition.
"No political talks took place (with Kumar), rather it (talks) was centred around some local issues, Manjhi told reporters emerging out of the CM residence. The HAM chief is the lone member of his party in the Legislative Assembly currently."
I will talk to you (media persons) on August 30, Manjhi gave a terse reply when reporters wanted to know from him whether he has been offered 10 seats to contest as a constituent of NDA, which currently comprised of three parties- BJP, JD(U) and LJP.
In reply to a query that as per talks in the political circle his joining NDA has almost been finalised, the HAM chief said "as of now, there is no such thing."
Manjhi is likely to make his stand clear on August 30 on a host of issues including the number of seats his party will be contesting as NDA partner if he joins the fold.
As per media reports, HAM wants to contest somewhere between 15-20 seats, mostly in the Magadh region to which he belongs. But, JD(U) as per the reports is willing to give Manjhis party around 10-12 seats. The ruling coalition already has a dalit leader in Union minister Ramvilas Paswan and hence accomodating Manjhi, also a leader representing the deprived class, would not be an easy task.
Manjhi has already made it clear that he is not going to merge his party with any other political outfit saying, "there is no question of merging with any other party."
It may be noted that Manjhi had quit the JD(U) in 2015 after being forced to step down as the chief minister to make way for return of Kumar. He later on formed the HAM and contested 21 seats during 2015 Bihar assembly polls as an NDA constituent.
With return of Kumar in the NDA fold in July 2017, he walked out of it to join hands with the opposition grouping.