Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi was on Thursday elected the leader of its four-member legislature party. All the four newly elected MLAs met at Manjhi's residence where they elected the former chief minister the leader of the legislature group.
They were all felicitated by party leaders and workers present there following the party's best-ever performance in an assembly election. Manjhi was the lone HAM MLA in the outgoing assembly. Later, talking to reporters Manjhi advised the newly elected lawmakers of the Congress to join the NDA for the progress of the state.
"Nitish Kumar's development plans are not much different from those of the Congress. Moreover, he has kept away from many issues that are not in the interest of the state. So, you can join us in the NDA and contribute to the development of the state," Manjhi said. He was apparently hinting at Kumar distancing himself from contentious issues like Ram temple in Ayodhya and instant triple talaq.
Manjhi had started his political career with the Congress in 1980. He later shifted to the RJD and then to JD (U). He quit the JD(U) after he was forced to step down to pave the way for the return of Nitish Kumar as the chief minister and later formed the Hindustani Awam Morcha. Kumar had stepped down as the chief minister in 2014 after taking moral responsibility for JD(U)'s abysmal performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when only two of its candidates won, and installed Manjhi as the CM. When Kumar wanted the chair back, a defiant Manjhi initially refused but gave in to pressure.
Kumar facilitated his return to the NDA just before the assembly elections to counterbalance another Dalit leader Chirag Paswan, who walked out of the ruling alliance in Bihar and went to the hustings alone. Manjhi's party was given seven seats to contest from the JD(U)'s quota of 122, and the party did well winning four.
He HAM leader said he will not become a minister in the new government headed by Nitish Kumar after having been the chief minister.