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Jitan Ram Manjhi extends support to Nitish Kumar

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Patna, Aug 09: Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi has extended support to JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, who has walked out of NDA alliance and resigned as Bihar Chief Minister.

Active in politics since the 1980s, Manjhi has served as a minister under many chief ministers although his moment of glory came in May, 2014 when Nitish Kumar, owning moral responsibility for the JD(U)'s debacle in Lok Sabha polls, gave up the chief minister's post.

Nitish Kumar and Jitan Ram Manjhi

After JD(U) rank and file failed to reach a consensus on the replacement for its de facto leader, Kumar intervened and backed Manjhi, who was seen as a loyalist and could also serve the purpose of sending across the message that the leader promoted a Dalit upon stepping down.

However, the months that followed bore witness to a huge political churning in Bihar and Kumar forged an alliance with arch-rival Lalu Prasad. Manjhi had, by that time, come to be seen as unsteady and accused by many of having become too chummy with the BJP.

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After Manjhi was commanded by the party to step down and make way for the return of his mentor, he tried to put up a semblance of revolt, but later resigned realising that numbers were not on his side. He also quit the

JD(U) along with some dissidents who had grown averse to Nitish Kumar and the breakaway group came to be known as HAM which the BJP-led NDA, then shorn of a strong alliance in Bihar, gladly accommodated.

The Grand Alliance that came into being as a result of the Lalu-Nitish alliance, however, inflicted a crushing defeat on the NDA in the 2015 assembly polls. Manjhi, who was in a state of limbo, feared further marginalisation when Kumar returned to the NDA in 2017.

The HAM founder quit the NDA, joined the RJD-Congress alliance and was quickly rewarded with a legislative council berth for his son by Lalu Prasad's party which had sufficient numbers in the assembly. However, he soon grew impatient with the RJD and its heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav and broke away ahead of the 2020 assembly polls.

His return to the NDA had led to speculations of HAM's merger with the JD(U) which did not take place though Manjhi himself never ruled out such a possibility.

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