Emphasising the fast growing popularity of Jitan Ram Manjhi in the present Bihar political scenario, former state Rural Development Minister Nitish Mishra, who is now a core committee member of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), states the possibility of Manjhi rewriting a new chapter in the state politics.

“Bihar today is going through many political changes and sticking out between two political stalwarts in the state, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar, Manjhi now emerges as the new face in the state politics. His 34 populist policies, which he made when in office as chief minister, have earned him his popularity,” Mishra told thestatesman.com. He said, “Hopefully Manjhi would rewrite a new chapter in Bihar politics.”

“Decisions made by him catered to all sects, whether mahadalit or the upper castes,” the HAM member said, adding, “Manjhi, during his term, addressed important issues, which the Nitish government is forced to implement now.”

“In the last few days, the state politics has been revolving around the HAM leader and now all expect that the assembly election will also revolve around him,” Mishra said.

“On Wednesday we launched a missed call number. Anyone who wants to join HAM can give a miss call on that number and become a registered party member. Till May 28 evening, we received around 5,000 calls. It shows the popularity of Manjhi and HAM.”

“HAM is yet to complete 100 days. It still lacks the structure of a proper party. But we were able to hold a strong and successful rally in Patna and other places in the state without proper resources compared to older parties who uses their complete machinery in making their programmes a hit,” the former minister said.

He believes this is just an indication that in the coming days, HAM would emerge as a powerful party in the state.

When asked about the grand alliance of the Janata Parivar, Mishra said, “The grand alliance of the Janata Parivar is not a natural alliance. Lalu and Nitish are two different poles of the planet who have fought against themselves for years. Today, there might be some pressure or fear that these two big leaders are coming together but it is really hard to predict now.”

Mishra also said, “The two leaders have differing personalities.  Not one of them is ready to accept the leadership of one another, so naturally the talks of merger appears to have reached a dead-end. The alliance which everyone is talking now does not look an easy task and differences among the leaders will come to the fore on seat sharing and deciding the CM face.”

When questioned on the possibility of alliance with the BJP, the former minister hinted at his soft corner for the saffron party and said, “We want to free Bihar from Lalu and Nitish. We don’t want our state in the same bad shape in which it has been since 1990. It is up to Manjhi to decide on the alliance issue for which he has been authorised by the party members.”

Criticizing the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal (United), the HAM member said, “The RJD ruled the state from 1990 to 2005, whereas Nitish ruled from 2005 to till date. So they have to jointly answer the questions of the people of Bihar for the miserable condition of the state for 25 years jointly.”

“Both leaders are not talking about their agenda of development for the state but they are only bothered about the BJP. It seems that the two parties have come together under pressure. This shows that these two faces are outdated and people of Bihar need a fresh face,” Mishra said.

The former minister also spoke about the HAM expansion plans. He said, “We have released the first list of our state-level committee. In the coming days, we would be releasing the district-level and block-level committee of our party.”

Meanwhile, the core committees have authorised Manjhi to take decision on the context of Bihar polls, Mishra said. He said, “However there is still some time left into it, we would look how strong we are as organization-wise. That would help us decide on alliance need before going into elections.”

The HAM leader, however, held back on revealing the party&’s chief ministerial choice candidate in case of their alliance with the BJP.

He said, “Right now our main priority is to provide a complete structure for our party and we have not decided on the CM candidate yet in case of our alliance with any party in the state.”