RJD’s Tej Pratap Yadav meets Jitan Ram Manjhi, ex-CM dials Lalu Prasad in Delhi
Even as Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) members were busy celebrating the 74th birthday of their party chief Lalu Prasad on Friday, his elder son and MLA Tej Pratap Yadav drove to the residence of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, whose party Hindustani Awami Morcha (Secular) is a constituent of the ruling NDA, stoking speculation of a realignment in Bihar.
Tej Pratap Yadav and Manjhi were closeted for about an hour during which the former CM also called the RJD chief, who is currently in Delhi, to extend birthday wishes.
Of late, Manjhi has been speaking out against NDA constituents, slamming BJP leaders “for the mindset of branding poor children studying in madrassas as terrorists and Dalit children striving to get ahead in life as Naxals”. He also voiced his objection to the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Covid-19 vaccination certificates.
For the record, the HAM(S) described Tej Pratap Yadav’s visit to Manjhi as “personal”. “It was a purely personal visit by Tej Pratap. Manjhi talked to the RJD chief to convey birthday wishes. There was no political talk during the meeting,” said HAM(S) spokesperson Danish Rizwan.
However, before the visit, Tej Pratap Yadav told media persons at the party office that HAM(S) was always welcome in the opposition’s grand alliance. “If Manjhi is feeling restless, he is free to join us,” he said.
Party’s senior leader and former speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary spoke of heightened political activity once RJD chief returns to Patna.
HAM(S) spokesperson Rizwan, though, vehemently rejected the possibility of his party leaving the NDA.
Manjhi’s party has four MLAs currently. His son Santosh Suman is a member of Nitish Kumar’s cabinet. Since the NDA enjoys only a slender majority in the Assembly, his party’s support is crucial for the ruling alliance.
Sources say Manjhi was not happy over being apparently sidelined in selection of nominees for MLCs from Governor’s quota.
Later, Manjhi said in a statement that he was very much part of the NDA and would remain with chief minister Nitish Kumar.
BJP MP and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said there should not be any haste in deriving any political meaning if any public representative pays a courtesy visit to a leader. “Manjhi is a tall Dalit leader and not a leader of any caste. He has seen the misgovernance of RJD. If somebody is made to meet him forcibly, it makes no difference. NDA is intact and the state government will complete its full term,” Modi said.