Patna, Feb 9:
It was a day of high political drama in Bihar as Nitish Kumar staked claim to form the government after defiant Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi was expelled by the JD-U which has blamed the BJP for trying to split it.
Days after Manjhi refused to quit and dug in his heels, things came to a boil Monday, with Nitish Kumar meeting Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi and formally staking claim to form the next government.
“Manjhi is encouraging and trying for horse trading,” Nitish Kumar told the media outside Raj Bhavan here after he, along with party chief Sharad Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, met the governor.
Nitish Kumar, along with 130 legislators belonging to his Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the RJD, the Congress and the Communist Party of India, had marched to Raj Bhavan.
Manjhi was hand-picked by then chief minister Nitish Kumar as his replacement when he quit last year after the JD-U’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls.
In the 243-member assembly, the JD-U has 115 legislators — most of whom are reportedly with Nitish Kumar. It is backed by 24 legislators of the RJD, five of the Congress, two Independents and one from the CPI.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 88 legislators and is supported by three Independents.
“It appears that Manjhi has got horse trading licence after he met Modi in Delhi,” said Nitish Kumar referring to Manjhi’s meeting in Delhi Sunday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We, including Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad, have informed Governor Tripathi that majority is with us and we are ready to prove it in the state assembly any time either today (Monday), or within 24 or 48 hours,” he said.
He said they will wait for the decision of the governor to invite him to take oath and form the next government.
But he warned that if the governor failed to invite him to form the next government soon, they will parade their legislators before the president in Delhi.
Hours earlier, JD-U expelled Manjhi from the party, blaming the BJP for orchestrating the episode.
“Manjhi has been expelled from the party (for six years). He has been indulging in anti-party activities,” party leader K.C. Tyagi said in Delhi Monday.
“All the things that happened were scripted. Operation Jitan Ram Manjhi has been orchestrated by (BJP president) Amit Shah,” he added.
In Patna, JD-U leader Shrawan Kumar, who is considered close to Nitish Kumar, told IANS that the party has also informed Governor Tripathi about Manjhi’s expulsion from the JD-U.
Nitish Kumar was re-elected the JD-U legislature party leader Saturday.
JD-U spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said the numbers are with Nitish Kumar as he enjoys the support of the majority of the party legislators and its allies, the RJD and the Congress.
The crisis in Bihar’s ruling JD-U deepened after Manjhi asserted he will not resign, while the rival camp led by Nitish Kumar announced it will stake claim to power.
According to JD-U sources, only 12 party legislators are with Manjhi.
Meanwhile, Manjhi’s loyalist JD-U MLA Rajeshwar Raj Monday petitioned the Patna High Court against Sharad Yadav who, he contended, illegally summoned a legislature party meeting which Saturday elected Nitish Kumar as its new leader.
“I have filed a petition in the Patna High Court against Yadav’s decision to call the meeting for re-electing Nitish Kumar as the new leader because it was unconstitutional and illegal,” he said.
Manjhi had already termed Yadav’s decision to call the meeting illegal. IANS