Manjhi Bihar
HAM's Jitan Manjhi and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in happier times | File photo

Manjhi’s HAM withdraws support to Nitish-led coalition govt in Bihar

Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) on Monday (June 19) announced the withdrawal of its support to the Nitish Kumar government. Manjhi’s son Santosh Suman, the party’s national president, said an appointment has been sought with Governor Rajendra Arlekar for handing over the letter of withdrawal of support.

Suman, who had resigned from the cabinet last week alleging pressure from Nitish Kumar’s to merge his party with the JD(U), was addressing a press conference at Patna after the national executive body of HAM “authorised” him to take a decision on future course of action.

Suman said he would visit Delhi later in the day to “explore options” and that he was “willing to consider” an invitation from the NDA if it is extended by the BJP-led coalition. “We are also keeping the option open for setting up a third front,” said the HAM president. HAM has switched loyalties many times since it was founded eight years ago.

He ducked queries about unconfirmed reports of a meeting scheduled in Delhi with BJP president JP Nadda.

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Speculations of his return to the NDA are rife in political circles of the state after Manjhi Sr met Union Home Minister Amit Shah a month ago. On the day Suman resigned from the Cabinet, Manjhi had revealed that CM Kumar had pressured him to merge his party with the JD(U).

“I met Nitish Kumar earlier this month. I was accompanied by MLAs of my party who wanted to share some concern about their respective constituencies. The meeting continued for 45 minutes, most of which were taken up by the chief minister’s harangue on our party’s merger with JD(U),” said Manjhi.

“I tried to draw his attention, even told him in good humour that age seemed to be catching up on him,” he added. Incidentally, Manjhi is elder to Kumar by a few years.

The ex-CM claimed that when Kumar persisted with the talk of a merger. He told the JD(U) chief that the merger was not possible. Kumar in turn brusquely told that “then you better get out”.

The HAM, with four MLAs, had joined the Mahagathbandhan last year, in solidarity with Nitish Kumar’s move of dumping the BJP which was accused of trying to break the JD(U).

In the 243-strong state assembly, the ruling coalition has close to 160 MLAs. It comprises JD(U), RJD and Congress besides three Left parties which are supporting the government from outside.

(With agency inputs)

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