Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi was Friday asked by Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi to prove his majority on the first day of the budget session beginning Feb 20 – a step welcomed by his supporters but slammed as “murder of democracy” by Nitish Kumar.
In a related development, the Patna High Court declined to stay Nitish Kumar’s election as the Janata Dal-United’s legislature party leader. According to Brajesh Malhotra, secretary to the governor, the floor test would be done either through lobby division or secret ballot, immediately after the governor’s address to the joint sitting of the state legislature.
The loyalists of Manjhi, who was expelled from the JD-U Monday after he refused to step down from his post, are upbeat. “We are 100 percent sure that Manjhi would prove his majority with BJP’s support,” state minister Bhim Singh, one of the leading vocal supporters of Manjhi, told the media here.
Another minister and Manjhi supporter, Vinay Bihari, said he was confident of Bharatiya Janata Party’s support while claiming several JD-U legislators were in touch with them. Senior BJP leaders, including Leader of Opposition Nand Kishore Yadav and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi have made it clear that party would support Manjhi in the assembly.
State BJP president Mangal Pandey said the party wants Manjhi back. Nitish Kumar however slammed the move, holding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP behind the Bihar governor’s plan to “murder parliamentary democracy by providing more time to Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi for horse trading to prove his majority”.
“The governor and BJP are trying to murder parliamentary democracy in Bihar and Modi is behind this game plan,” said the former chief minister, who returned from Delhi where he met President Pranab Mukherjee and paraded 130 supporting legislators of the Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress, the Communist Party of India and independents.
“Modi is behind the curtain to play this game plan. Soon after meeting Modi in Delhi, Manjhi revealed his plans of horse trading openly and started his operation to split JD-U,” Nitish Kumar said. He said Bihar’s political environment was being deliberately polluted to impose President’s Rule in the state.
“But the JD-U, the RJD, the Congress and the CPI would not allow imposition of President’s Rule in Bihar,” he said. Nitish Kumar said he had demanded that the governor call a special session of the Bihar assembly to provide a chance to the chief minister to prove his majority.
“But the governor has ignored our request and given enough time to Manjhi for horse trading,” he alleged. 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.
Meanwhile, the Patna High Court Thursday modified its own directive of Wednesday in which it had stayed Nitish Kumar’s election as the new leader of the legislature party.
A division bench of Chief Justice L.N. Reddy has modified in its earlier order of stay on Nitish Kumar’s election as the new leader of the legislature party, P.K. Shahi, who has filed a petition challenging the stay and requested it be withdrawn, told media here.
Shahi, who is considered close to Nitish Kumar, Thursday filed a petition in the high court challenging the stay on Nitish Kumar’s election and requesting it be withdrawn. The court Wednesday stayed Nitish Kumar’s election as leader of the legislature party after hearing a petition filed by Rajeshwar Raj, a legislator considered close to Manjhi.