The battle for Bihar saw a new tilt on Thursday with RJD chief Lalu Prasad inviting former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi to join forces against the BJP, an offer that political observers felt would annoy the JD(U) leadership.
Prasad’s remarks came at a time the proposed pre-poll alliance between the RJD and ruling JD(U) as well as the merger of erstwhile Janata parivar constituents remained uncertain.
The RJD chief said efforts should be made to bring on board Manjhi’s Hindustan Awami Morcha (HAM) and other like-minded parties to put up a united fight against the BJP in the assembly polls.
But he didn’t elaborate how Manjhi and his mentor-turned-foe, chief minister Nitish Kumar, who were locked in a bitter power struggle early this year, could patch up. Besides, there was speculation that Manjhi might ally with the BJP that had “given him a shoulder to cry on” during the ugly spat with Kumar, sources said.
Manjhi, who formed a separate outfit after being booted out of the JD(U), said there was no question of going with a political formation or alliance that would have Kumar in it. “Laluji has always appreciated me. But I fail to understand what prompts him to think of going with Nitishji,” he wondered.
He said he would rather take the field alone and put up candidates in all the 243 assembly constituencies. “Whether I will be with the BJP or Laluji or any other … Nitish Kumar cannot be where I am.”
Prasad left for Delhi on Thursday morning to meet Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to push for the pending merger of Janata Parivar offshoots before the September-October assembly elections.
Kumar, too, is expected to meet the SP chief in Delhi to discuss a “technical hitch” in the merger.