New Delhi: Former Bihar state chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi joined the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Friday and indicated that he will contest the Bihar assembly elections, bolstering the prospects of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA as it prepares to take on the combined strength of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Janata Dal (United) and the Congress party in the upcoming assembly polls.

Soon after Manjhi formally joined the NDA, BJP president Amit Shah said he would visit Bihar on 21 June to oversee poll preparations.

BJP leaders are confident that the party will be able to perform well in the state along with allies Ram Vilas Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party.

Manjhi had met Shah at his residence in New Delhi on Thursday to give his consent for the alliance.

“The coming together of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Congress signifies that they are worried about BJP. There is a definite edge for the BJP in Bihar. The NDA has a mission to get 185-plus seats in the state and we will be able to meet the target set for ourselves," said a senior BJP leader who was involved in the negotiations.

BJP leaders also pointed out that the party will decide on whether to announce a chief ministerial candidate or not.

“The parliamentary board of BJP will decide whether to announce a chief ministerial candidate or not. There has been no discussion on the issue till now," said the senior leader cited earlier.

The party has also made minister of chemicals and fertilizers Anant Kumar the BJP’s in charge of the state election.

Senior BJP leaders also said that the party will contest the majority of seats in the 243-member Bihar assembly.

The BJP had only contested 102 seats in the 2010 assembly election, and won 91.

This is the first time in nearly two decades that the party will contest a majority of the seats in the state.

“There are no differences on seat sharing between allies. Since the BJP is the largest of all the alliance partners, it will contest majority seats. The decision on seat sharing will be taken by Bihar unit of the party," said the senior party leader quoted earlier.

The BJP has decided to highlight the deteriorating law and order situation in Bihar and the governance model of Lalu Prasad Yadav when he was chief minister of Bihar in its election campaign.

“There is a history of bad law and order problem in Bihar and BJP will make it a issue in the coming elections," the BJP leader added.

Political analysts say that Manjhi’s entry is unlikely to make a significant difference in the election prospects of the alliance.

“A minor section of Bihar’s scheduled caste voters will support Jitan Ram Manjhi, so he will not add much to the poll prospects of the BJP-led NDA. He has a minor vote share in the overall elections of Bihar," said Badri Narayan, an Allahabad-based political analyst.

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