Patna: In a major boost to the former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, his newly formed outfit, Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), was on Wednesday formally allotted an election symbol by the Election Commission of India a week after it was recognised as a political party.

Reports said HAM has been allotted a “telephone” as its election symbol by the poll panel. The announcement has come as a major relief for HAM as the Election Commission is to announce the poll dates for Bihar very soon.

Manjhi, who floated the outfit shortly after his expulsion from Janata Dal (United) in February this year, had been eagerly waiting for the symbol to contest the assembly polls. Manjhi had sought ‘hand-pump’ as his party’s election symbol.

HAM, which is currently an alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has staked claim over at least 50 assembly seats in Bihar although the saffron party does not look in a mood to spare more than 20 seats given the fact that it is making a political debut this time.

The problem for the BJP is that it has set a target of winning 185 plus seats in the elections, and if it is able to fulfil the demands of other two alliance partners, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), it will be left with barely 50 seats to contest. It wants to win a majority on its own.

The LJP has staked a claim for 75 seats whereas RLSP wants to contest 66 seats.