Patna, Feb 7:
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi Saturday recommended the assembly’s dissolution against the view of a majority of his cabinet colleagues even as his predecessor Nitish Kumar was elected the legislature party chief, signalling he could be at the state’s helm again.
Manjhi’s move came soon after he earlier Saturday met Nitish Kumar for a “patch up” as the crisis deepened in the ruling JD-U over his replacement.
“Manjhi visited Nitish Kumar’s official residence to discuss some issues for patch up and to settle issues,” said a Janata Dal-United leader.
Party president Sharad Yadav had invited both Manjhi and Nitish Kumar for a meeting to end the crisis in the party, the leader said.
Manjhi, who had called for a cabinet meeting ahead of the scheduled legislature party meeting Saturday evening, also held closed door meetings with his associates including two ministers and some party legislators in the morning.
At the cabinet meeting, Manjhi decided to recommend dissolution of the state assembly.
Minister Vijendra Prasad Yadav told the media that after senior minister Narendra Singh had proposed dissolution of the assembly in the cabinet meeting, 21 of the 28 ministers walked out of the meeting.
His ministerial colleague Shyam Razak said: “Only seven ministers including Chief Minister Manjhi have supported the move in the cabinet and 21 ministers rejected the decision.”
Razak and Yadav are considered close to Nitish Kumar.
According to JD-U leaders close to Manjhi, the chief minister was set to send the cabinet recommendation for dissolution of the Bihar assembly to Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi.
In the legislature party meeting, Nitish Kumar was elected its new leader.
“Nearly 100 of 115 JD-U legislators attended the meeting and elected Nitish Kumar as their new leader,” a JD-U leader said.
Sharad Yadav had called the meeting amid speculation that Manjhi would be replaced.
On Friday, the crisis over the leadership issue worsened as Nitish Kumar’s supporters and Manjhi and his backers in the party were locked in a war of words, with the chief minister terming the meeting of the JD-U legislature party Saturday as illegal and unconstitutional and the Nitish Kumar camp threatening to take action against Manjhi.
Manjhi had called a counter-meeting of the legislature party Feb 20. IANS