80-year-old Jitan Ram Manjhi defies odds to become union minister in Modi 3.0 Cabinet | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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80-year-old Jitan Ram Manjhi defies odds to become union minister in Modi 3.0 Cabinet

PTI |
Jun 09, 2024 09:35 PM IST

Since 2014, Jitan Ram Manjhi relentlessly pursued the Gaya Lok Sabha seat, facing one crushing defeat after another before finally wresting the seat this time.

Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) founder Jitan Ram Manjhi, who has been a formidable force in Bihar's political arena, was made a central minister on Sunday.

HAM-S chief Jitan Ram Manjhi(PTI)
HAM-S chief Jitan Ram Manjhi(PTI)

Manjhi's rise has been nothing short of extraordinary. Since 2014, he has relentlessly pursued the Gaya Lok Sabha seat, facing one crushing defeat after another before finally wresting the seat this time.

In 2014, he finished third while contesting as a JD(U) candidate. Undeterred, he tried again in 2019 under the HAM(S) banner, only to suffer a staggering loss to the JD(U). But this time, his perseverance paid off as he finally clinched the coveted seat. Now, at nearly 80 years old, Manjhi stands triumphant, defying the odds once again.

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Manjhi's political journey took a dramatic turn when, in 2014, he was unexpectedly anointed Chief Minister by Nitish Kumar, who had resigned after a disastrous Lok Sabha election.

Kumar saw Manjhi as a caretaker who would merely keep the seat warm. But the unassuming Manjhi quickly shattered those expectations.

Within two months, he boldly stepped out of Kumar’s shadow, asserting his independence with a defiance that shocked many.

This audacity prompted Nitish to oust Manjhi and reclaim the CM's chair in February 2015, just months before the Assembly polls.

Refusing to be sidelined, Manjhi dramatically split from the JD(U) and formed his own party, HAM(S), aligning with the BJP-led NDA.

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The 2015 Assembly elections, however, dealt Manjhi a harsh blow. His party secured only one seat, stripping him of any significant leverage with the BJP. In a surprising twist, Manjhi then joined the Mahagathbandhan, but the Modi wave in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections left little room for his influence to grow.

Before this tumultuous period, Manjhi served as the MLA from Imamganj in Gaya district, part of the Aurangabad Lok Sabha constituency, before securing his MP seat.

His earlier career saw him as the minister for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare in Nitish Kumar's cabinet. From 1996 to 2005, he served under the RJD government with Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi, showcasing his political versatility.

Manjhi's affiliations have spanned the political spectrum, from Congress (1980–1990) to Janata Dal (1990–1996), Rashtriya Janata Dal (1996–2005), and JD(U) (2005–2015). Each transition marked by strategic decisions and dramatic turns, solidifying his reputation as a political survivor and a relentless advocate for the Dalit community.

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