Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday expressed agreement with veteran leaders of the RJD and the Congress who have been in favour of bringing Nitish Kumar back to the grand alliance ahead of the assembly polls later this year.
Mr Manjhi, whose Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) is a constituent of the five-party grand alliance, however, said he doubted that the chief minister and JD(U) president will dump the BJP.
"In principle, I am of the opinion that we have to fight the BJP and to this end we must not hesitate from taking the support of anybody, be it Nitish Kumar or Pappu Yadav," Mr Manjhi told reporters.
Pappu Yadav is a controversial, but influential leader from north Bihar, who has floated his outfit Jan Adhikar Party.
The HAM president was replying to queries about RJD national vice-president and former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh having repeatedly pitched for the return of Kumar, who had dumped the grand alliance in July, 2017.
The RJD veteran's stand has also received support from old-timers in the Congress like legislative party leader Sadanand Singh.
Mr Manjhi, however, sought to make light of the strident opposition to a tie-up with Mr Kumar by RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, the heir apparent of jailed founding president Lalu Yadav.
"In a village body it is the view of the panch (five elders chosen as arbiters) that is supreme. A decision regarding the grand alliance will, similarly, be taken at an appropriate time by senior leaders of all parties. What Tejashwi is saying in a fit of hot-bloodedness does not need to be given much importance," Mr Manjhi said.
When asked about the RJD having declared Tejashwi Yadav as its chief ministerial candidate for the assembly polls, Mr Manjhi, who had a few months ago threw his hat in the ring questioning the young RJD leader's ability to lead the coalition, changed tack.
"Tejashwi Yadav undoubtedly has potential. But this is all premature talk. The grand alliance will decide its chief minister after the five-party coalition wins the assembly elections," Mr Manjhi said.
He also added that "for strategic reasons I am not averse to our coalition joining hands with Nitish Kumar. But I know him well and I do not think he will muster the courage to leave the BJP before the elections, though recent debacles of the saffron party in state polls might have sown seeds of doubt in his mind".
Formerly with JD(U), Mr Manjhi was made the chief minister in May 2014 by Mr Kumar, who had stepped down taking moral responsibility for his party's drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls when it fought separately from the BJP.
Mr Manjhi quit the party in protest when the JD(U) forced him to resign as chief minister to make way for Mr Kumar's return. While Mr Kumar forged an alliance with the RJD and the Congress and went on to win the 2015 assembly polls handsomely, Mr Manjhi - who had by then floated HAM - sided with the NDA and fared badly.
In 2018, Mr Manjhi - stifled by Mr Kumar's return to the NDA - crossed over to the grand alliance. The five-party alliance comprises, besides RJD, Congress and HAM, former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP and Bollywood set designer turned politician Mukesh Sahni's Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP).