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Lalu invites Manjhi for joint fight against BJP, JD(U) upset

Lalu Prasad

Patna: A day before the ‘Janata Parivar’ constituents go into a yet another huddle to remove irritants in the path of their merger, RJD chief Lalu Prasad today caused disquiet in JD(U) with remarks that former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi be part of the “broader unity” against BJP.

Manjhi, a detractor of Kumar, has floated Hindustani Awam Party after being ousted as chief minister and is said to be veering towards the BJP.

“We are for broader unity of parties against BJP in which everybody, including Manjhi, shall come forward,” Lalu told reporters here before leaving for Delhi to attend a meeting of Janata Parivar constituents tomorrow.

“Be it merger or alliance, there is a need for broader unity of parties to fight together against BJP…Manjhi and others shall come forward for this,” the RJD president said.

Kumar, who had handpicked Manjhi as his successor after he decided to step down following JD(U)’s humiliating defeat in last year’s Lok Sabha elections, chose not to speak to the media over Lalu’s suggestion.

However, Lalu’s invitation to Manjhi to be a part of the efforts for a “broader unity” against BJP did not go down well with JD(U), which is keen on formalising the merger ahead of the state Assembly poll due later this year.

State JD(U) president Basistha Narayan Singh said there was “no point” in bringing Manjhi into the picture due to his reported proximity to BJP.

“Manjhi is not in the to do list of Janata Party unity process. Nitish Kumar had chosen him for the chair of chief minister, but he turned out to be a puppet in the hands of BJP,” state JD(U) spokesman Neeraj Kumar said, reacting to Lalu’s invitation to Manjhi.

Brishen Patel, a former minister and close aide of Manjhi, however, thanked Lalu for the invitation but made it clear that his party will not be a part of any political combination which has Nitish Kumar.

“But, one thing is crystal clear that Manjhi and his newly floated Hindustani Awam Party (HAM) would not be part of any combination of which Nitish Kumar is a part,” said Patel who had been a minister in the governments led by Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, Nitish Kumar and Manjhi.

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