Fissures have again surfaced in the Opposition’s Grand Alliance ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar with too many leaders scrambling to be projected as alliance’s chief ministerial candidate.
While the RJD has declared it will go to polls under the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav, his other two allies, Jitan Ram Manjhi and Upendra Kushwaha too nurse high political ambitions and have rejected the candidature of the former, thus making the battle interesting well ahead of the polls.
The infighting within the Grand Alliance turned interesting on Tuesday when Manjhi, who heads the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), rejected the claim of the RJD saying who will lead the Opposition alliance is the issue to be decided by all parties and not by the RJD alone.
“Tejashwi Yadav is the leader of the RJD and not of the Grand Alliance. Who will head the Grand Alliance will be decided by the parties now part of the alliance,” HAM spokesperson Danish Rizwan told the media on Tuesday.
As such, the problem has been created since just everyone in the opposition alliance wants to be projected as the chief ministerial face. Of them, Manjhi and Kushwaha have been scrambling for this for quite long. Manjhi, who served as the chief minister of Bihar for nine months after his mentor Nitish Kumar handed over his throne to him owning responsibility for party’s disastrous performance in 2014 LS polls, claims himself to be the most suitable face for the post on the grounds that he has the prior experience to run the state.
Likewise, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) too has projected Kushwaha as party’s chief ministerial face, fit enough to replace Kumar. The RLSP leaders claim Kushwaha being the former Union minister as well as ex-Bihar Opposition leader is the perfect face to lead the opposition alliance.
But the RJD has summarily rejected the claims of all these leaders saying it is the single largest party in the Grand Alliance holds the natural claim for the Chief Ministerial candidate. The RJD has currently 80 members in the Bihar assembly whereas HAM has only one member in the assembly in the form of Manjhi himself. Although the RLSP won two seats in the last assembly elections, both its legislators—Lalan Paswan and Susdhanshu Shekhar have now switched over to the JD-U, leaving the party with no representation in the Bihar House.
“There is no problem in the Grand Alliance and everything will be settled when the time comes. The RJD has announced the name of Tejashwi Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate as he is the leader of the largest party of the Grand Alliance,” RJD spokesperson Mrintunjay Tiwari said.
He said the alliance has been taking decisions collectively and that is why both Manjhi and Kushwaha were spared seats in last LS polls and Manjhi’s son was nominated to the upper house of the Bihar legislature.
According to insiders, the RJD has not been giving much prominence to Manjhi and Kushwaha as they don’t enjoy much support base among the masses. The RJD is disappointed at the way whatever votes the HAM and RLSP candidates polled in the last LS polls were, as such, the votes of the RJD voters.
“The entire scene would have been different had the so-called voters of HAM and RLSP voted for the Grand Alliance,” said an RJD leader. The Grand Alliance put up a disastrous performance in the last LS polls winning just one out of total 40 LS seats in Bihar. The RJD even failed to open its account—the first time since it came into being in 1997.