Bihar CM Nitish's ally Manjhi meets Amit Shah, triggers buzz

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Jitan Ram Manjhi | File photo: PTI

New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's ally Jitan Ram Manjhi set political circles abuzz following a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday, more so as the development came amid the Janata Dal (United) leader's talks with several opposition leaders as part of his effort to forge an alliance against the BJP.

Manjhi, a former chief minister, however, sought to quell any speculation and reiterated his assertion that Kumar has all the qualities to become the country's prime minister.

He asserted that he has sworn to remain with Kumar and rejected any possibility of joining hands with the BJP, saying that it has spoken against the existence of small parties like his.

The Dalit leader heads the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and his son is a minister in the RJD-JD(U)-Congress government in the state.

Manjhi's meeting with Shah was on his party's demand that Dashrath Manjhi, whose single-handed feat of digging a road through the mountains over two decades, immortalised in local folklore and on celluloid after his death, be awarded the 'Bharat Ratna' -- India's highest civilian honour.

Following his meeting with Shah, he also rushed to meet Kumar to dispel any perception that he was again on the verge of a U-turn as the BJP seeks to win over smaller parties in Bihar as it readies for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

"Nitish Kumar has all the attributes to be prime minister and he is making an honest effort to unify opposition parties to bring change in 2024. I am with him wherever he is," Manjhi said.

Picked by Kumar to replace him as chief minister following the JD(U)'s drubbing in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Manjhi rebelled at being forced to make way for his mentor in 2015 and joined hands with the BJP.

He was part of the RJD-led alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, which the JD(U) and the BJP contested together. A Dalit leader, he enjoys influence in his 'Manjhi' community in parts of Bihar. PTI

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