NEW DELHI -- Two Mahadalit heavyweights will face off in a battle for votes and prestige in the Maoist-hit Imamganj constituency in the district of Gaya on October 16.
After flexing his muscle to get 20 seats in the Bihar State Elections, Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi wrangled the Imamganj seat from the Bharatiya Janata Party because he wants to contest against Uday Narayan Choudhary, the outgoing Assembly Speaker, on his own turf.
"I have made a decision to run from Imamganj as well as Makhdumpur," Manjhi tweeted on Sunday.
हमने मखदुमपुर के अलावे इमामगंज विधानसभा क्षेत्र से भी चुनाव लड़ने का निर्णय लिया है..— Jitan Ram Manjhi (@ManjhiHAM) September 20, 2015
Choudhary has claimed the Imamganj seat five times since 1990, which includes victories the past four state assembly elections.
Relations between the two Mahadalits leader changed hue after the Manjhi was chosen as chief minister after Janata Dal (United)'s Nitish Kumar stepped down from the post following a dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections. But it was during Manjhi's humiliating ouster from the JD(U), and the loss of his chief ministerial post, when they became openly hostile.
While attempting to prove his majority in the House in February, Manjhi accused Choudhary of acting on behalf of the Kumar instead of maintaing a neutral position as Assembly Speaker.
Ahead of the crucial floor test in which the Bharatiya Janata Party decided to support Manjhi, Choudhary granted the Leader of Opposition status to JD(U)'s Vijay Chaudhary instead of BJP's Nand Kishore Yadav.
Choudhary also disqualified eight lawmakers supporting Manjhi, and he did not agree to the former chief minister's demand of using secret ballot for the confidence vote. He maintained that his decisions were "correct and constitutional."
Ultimately, the former chief minister resigned before the trust vote in the State Assembly, and Choudhary said that he felt "fortunate" if Manjhi held him responsible for his ouster. "I heard the allegations made by Manjhi. He said he resigned due to me. I consider myself fortunate if this is so," he said in February, PTI reported.
Manjhi will now contest two seats: the Imamganj one in his native Gaya district and the Makhdumpur constituency in Jenahanad district.