Just over two months after he resigned as Bihar chief minister breaking with the JD(U) leadership, Jitan Ram Manjhi announced here on Wednesday he was ready to launch a new political party.
“My party will be launch on May 10 with the specific goals of exposing corruption in Bihar, facilitating inclusive development and ensuring uplift of the poor, especially the dalits”, Manjhi told reporters at a press conference.
The dalit leader said the party would be named after Hindustani Awami Morcha (HAM), the front he launched on February 28 to carry forth his own political agenda.
Top of the party's agenda would be to target the Nitish Kumar government. Kumar succeeded Manjhi as chief minister after the latter could not muster the numbers required to win an assembly floor test on February 20.
Manjhi had been hinting at floating a new party for quite some time. Many believe that the announcement to start a new party was forced as any further delay might have driven more of the 10-odd MLAs supporting him towards the JD(U) or BJP.
Manjhi says the delay in RJD-JD (U) merger had prompted him to form a new party. “We had planned to stake claim on the JD(U) symbol post the merger but bickering between the two parties has made us go in for a new symbol,” he said.
Asked how many of the HAM leaders and MLAs were likely to cross over either to the BJP or RJD/JD (U), Manjhi said he would not stop anybody.
“I have called a meeting of our leaders to seek their opinion. But I know a majority will stay with me. Rather, there are three dozen JD (U) MLAs who want to join us and they would do so after June,” Manjhi claimed.
He appeared to be counting on the likelihood of many JD(U)/RJD MLAs, who were denied assembly poll tickets, joining his party.
The dalit leader, whose recent rally at Gandhi Maidan here drew a good attendance, maintained there was no question of his party of entering into a pre-poll tie up with any political party or combination.
This was apparently meant to set at rest speculations that he might join forces with the BJP to take on Nitish Kumar or the merged entity of which he was a part.
“Of course, we will have a post poll alliance with any group minus chief minister Nitish Kumar,” he said.
Little relief for quake hit
Manjhi also came down heavily on the state government’s relief operations for those affected by the cyclonic storm and earthquake in north and north eastern Bihar. “The real victims are not getting any relief and everything is being done just on paper”, he claimed.
“Funds are being bungled in the name of relief,” he alleged and urged the centre to send a team to access the extent of damage caused by the tremors in the state and also give monetary assistance to victims who had lost their worldly possessions.
“PM Narendra Modi's move to send a team of ministers to supervise relief operations in Bihar is a welcome move. But I am disappointed by home minister Rajnath Singh's statement that he was happy with the relief work”, Manjhi said.
He said his tour of Sitamarhi, Darbhanga and Purnea had revealed things on relief front were really bad. “Some bureaucrats are making tall claims about the relief operations whereas ministers in charge of districts had been pushed to the sidelines”, he said.