Grand Alliance Leader Meets NDA Partner Jitan Manjhi Ahead Of Floor Test

CPI(ML) Liberation legislature party leader Mehboob Alam, who is a key figure in Bihar’s opposition ‘Mahagathbandhan’, on Saturday met former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, founder of the Hindustani Awam Morcha, an NDA partner.

However, leaders from both camps asserted that there was “nothing political” about the meeting, which came just about 48 hours before the newly formed NDA government will seek a trust vote.

The meeting was held at Mr Manjhi’s residence in Patna. 

“Mr Manjhi ji is our guardian, a senior leader whom we keep meeting regularly. Of late, he has not been keeping well. So I came and was glad to see that now he is better,” Mr Alam told reporters.

When asked whether they had tea, the Left leader remarked in a jocular vein, “Yes, we had tea, we also had coffee. Mr Manjhi is in high spirits and he will play a good game (achha khel dikhayenge).” Notably, “khel” has become a buzzword in Bihar’s political circles ever since RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who lost the deputy chief minister’s post as a result of JD(U) president Nitish Kumar’s volte face, declared that the “game was still on”.

Speculations have been rife that Mr Yadav’s father Lalu Prasad, the RJD chief, would put to use his resourcefulness to turn the tables on the NDA during the trust vote.

However, Mr Alam hastened to add, “I mentioned the word khel in a general sense. Please note that we are not involved in any underhand tactics”.

Mr Manjhi, whose party has only four MLAs, had recently caused a flutter by claiming that he had received an offer of the chief minister’s post from the RJD but he refused to be tempted, though he has sought to leverage his position by demanding another cabinet berth, besides the one only assigned to his son Santosh Suman.

The former CM was not available for comments about the meeting.

However, party vice president and MLA Anil Kumar, who was present on the occasion, told reporters, “It was an informal meeting. Leaders of various parties do keep visiting Mr Manjhi. There were no political discussions”.

He also made light of the meeting taking place just two days ahead of the trust vote and said, “Our party is intact and 100 per cent with Manjhi’s decision to stay with the NDA and the Nitish Kumar government in the state”.

In the 243-member state assembly, the NDA has a combined strength of 128, six more than the number required for a majority.

The ‘Mahagathbandhan’, which includes RJD, Congress, CPI(ML), CPI and CPI(M), has 114 members, eight short of the magic figure.

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