After dismissing two ministers from his rival camp, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Saturday called a meeting of his cabinet this afternoon amidst reports that he might recommend dissolution of the state assembly.
The meeting of the state cabinet has been called at 2 PM today, highly placed party sources said.
The timing of cabinet meeting has been kept close to the JD(U) Legislative Party (LP) meeting called by party President Sharad Yadav at 4 PM.
Rural Development Minister Nitish Mishra, who has expressed support to Manjhi, confirmed the cabinet meeting but said he is yet to receive official communication on it so far.
Food minister Shyam Rajak, a close confidant of JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar told he was not aware of the meeting.
“But, if there is a meeting I will go because till the date Manjhi is the CM,” he said.
Meanwhile, JD(U) General Secretary K C Tyagi made it clear that Nitish Kumar would be elected at JD(U) LP meeting to take over the reins from Manjhi.
“Nitish Kumar is the first and the last choice for choosing new leader of party in the assembly,” he said.
Tyagi, a close supporter of Sharad Yadav blamed BJP national leadership for triggering the crisis in the JD(U) government. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah have written the script of the going on in Bihar.”
While a showdown in JD(U) is looking definite, there is no word on arrival of the governor, who holds additional charge of Bihar, to Patna from Kolkata, Raj Bhawan sources said.
Launching an offensive against his rival camp, Manjhi had late on Friday night recommended to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi the dismissal of ministers Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lalan and P K Sahi considered close to Kumar, the former chief minister.
Manjhi supporters like ministers Nitish Mishra, Mahachandra Prasad Singh and rebel JD (U) MLAs including Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo, Rajiv Ranjan and Rahul Sharma have already arrived at CM’s residence to chalk out the strategy.
Mahachandra Prasad Singh, the state PHED minister, told reporters before entering the CM’s residence this morning that “Some big matter might be taken up at the cabinet meeting.”
Gyanoo told reporters that either Manjhi would continue to stay on the chair or an early election should be announced in the state.
Breaking convention, the cabinet meeting is scheduled to be held at the CM’s official residence instead of the secretariat.
The dismissal of Lalan, Minister for Road Construction and Shahi, the Forest Minister last night was confirmed by Amritlal Meena, Principal Secretary to the chief minister on Saturday.
The Manjhi camp believes that the two have been in the forefront to oust him from the Chief Minister’s post.
Yadav in a letter has requested the governor not to entertain “any recommendation by Manjhi who is in minority”.
On condition of anonymity, a senior minister close to Nitish Kumar said: “In the worst case there will be no more than 13 legislators including some ministers siding with Manjhi.”
Tyagi claimed the Nitish camp has the support of 130 legislators, comprising MLAs and MLCs.
“We can parade our legislators in front of the governor or the president of the country, if asked,” he said.
Parliamentary Affairs minister Shrawan Kumar, who is also JD (U) Chief Whip, had on Friday sent notice of the legislature party meeting called by Sharad Yadav to 111 MLAs and 41 MLCs. The list includes Nitish Kumar and Manjhi.
Amidst the hectic political activities, security has been enhanced outside Manjhi’s residence.