Law Kumar Mishra
Patna: HAM (Secular) led by former chief minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi is likely to contest assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh independently as preliminary negotiations for seat sharing with BJP have failed. The core group of senior leaders of HAM (S) is meeting here on Saturday to finalise tour programme of Manjhi in Uttar Pradesh.
Manjhi, on his part, has claimed he has got invitations from several top Dalit and Mahadalit leaders of UP to address meetings in different constitutencies from Gorakhpur to Varanasi, all in neighbourhood of Bihar districts. His supporters have prepared a list of the assembly constitutencies which his predecessor and successor CM of Bihar Nitish Kumar visited recently to campaign for Janata Dal (U).
Manjhi is expected to start his UP tour from Mirzapur having a sizable dalit and mahadlit electorate. Phoolan Devi, once a dreaded Chambal outlaw, was elected to Lok Sabha from this constitutency. Manjhi supporters indicated HAM(S) would field its candidates in atleast 50 constitutencies in UP.
Manjhi’s entry into UP electoral arena wo uld have tacit support of the BJP also as his campaign would adversely hit the Bahujan Samaj Party prospects. BSP chief Maywati is a dalit while Manjhi is from Mahadalit category in terms of Bihar classification of SCs. In the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, HAM (S) in alliance with the BJP had contested in 20 constitutencies including six reserved for scheduled castes. However, only Manjhi was successful. His ministerial colleagues also lost the elections.