New Delhi: Beleaguered Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi is set to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi here in the evening today with the two expected to discuss the political situation in the state where an overwhelming majority of ruling JD(U) MLAs yesterday chose Nitish Kumar as their party leader. Sources close to Manjhi, who has refused to step down and termed the JD(U) Legislature Party meet yesterday “unconstitutional”, said he wanted BJP to support his bid to prevent Kumar — his one-time mentor against whom he has rebelled — from taking over from him.
At the meeting, which is scheduled to be held at 5 P.M., Manjhi and Modi could explore possibilities in this regard, they added. Manjhi is here to attend the NITI Aayog meet where Modi will seek views of chief ministers on the budgetary allocation for the states and various central projects even though JD(U) has disapproved of his bid to take part in the exercise, saying his position as chief minister was no longer tenable.
Although BJP is keen to exploit the crisis within JD(U) to consolidate its position in Bihar, it is also wary about propping up Manjhi, whose tenure has been criticised by its state unit for poor governance. The lack of support for the Mahadalit leader within his own party is also dissuading BJP from coming out openly to back Manjhi as it believes that numbers in the Bihar Assembly clearly favour Kumar.
Manjhi, on the other hand, is also exploring the possibility of a fresh election in the state — a demand also made by senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi — if the Bihar Governor Kesrinath Tripathi agrees to his Cabinet proposal to dissolve the Assembly. Only seven members of the Manjhi Cabinet had supported the proposal at their meeting yesterday while 21 others had opposed it. Later, 97 of JD(U)’s 111 MLAs met to replace Manjhi with Kumar as their new leader, underlining the lack of support for the chief minister within his own party.