Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi Thursday reiterated his demand for a respectable share of seats within grand alliance in the upcoming Lok Sabha poll and said his Hindustani Awam Morcha would contest 20 out of a total 40 parliamentary seats in the state on its own if denied its due.
Mr Manjhi, who had earlier this week stated that he would not agree to a seat-sharing formula that gave a less number to HAM compared with former union minister Upendra Kushwahas RLSP, also cryptically said that he personally saw the Congress as a major player but the prevailing sentiment in my party is that we have a support base in Bihar that is greater than that of the national party.
A meeting of HAM district unit presidents was held here and it was unanimously decided that we would not agree to any formula wherein we were given a number that was less than what any of the late entrants might get, Mr Manjhi told reporters.
Mr Manjhi had left the BJP-led NDA in February last year and joined the Congress-RJD combine, known as the Mahagathbandhan a term coined by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar while he was in the coalition and which continues to be in use for describing the opposition formation.
After Manjhis HAM, Sharad Yadavs LJD, RLSP and Bollywood set designer-turned-politician Mukesh Sahnis VIP have joined the mahagathbandhan.
Replying to a query, Mr Manjhi said of course,a seat-sharing formula is yet to be finalized in the mahagathbandhan. But my party workers expressed their outrage over media reports which suggested that we may end up getting only one seat. It would be humiliating, if true.
Notably, HAM has only one MLA Manjhi himself in the 243-strong state assembly.
The former cms son Santosh became an MLC last year with the help of the RJD. The party came into existence in 2015 when Mr Manjhi quit the JD(U) in protest against having been made to step down for paving the way for the return of Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister.
We have said that we are in a position to contest 20 seats. We would end up fighting as many on our own if things do not work out in our favor. We are a recognized political party with the telephone assigned to us as the symbol by the Election Commission, Mr Manjhi claimed.
As I have said, I would soon be meeting RJD supremo Lalu Prasad so that things are finalized by next week. I did speak to Mr Tejashwi but nothing came of that. In any case, as long as Lalu is there, it is he who will be having the last word, the HAM founding president said.
Mr Manjhi has sought to assume an aggressive posture ever since the HAM suffered a setback recently with its state unit chief Vrishan Patel and national spokesman Danish Rizwan quitting the party, though both are critical of each other .