Grappling with a crisis within, JD (U) on Sunday accused BJP of plotting a split in the party and said it was willing to parade 130 MLAs, more than the majority in the 233-member Bihar Assembly — before the governor or the President in a show of strength.
Party spokesperson KC Tyagi suggested that Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi was working at the BJP’s behest and said he had no right to attend the NITI Aayog meeting in the national capital as he no longer enjoyed the confidence of the majority of MLAs after JD(U) lawmakers elected Nitish Kumar as their new leader in Patna yesterday.
Asked about Manjhi’s scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi this evening, he said, “The fact is BJP President Amit Shah is working overtime to engineer a split in our party, like he is doing with TMC. He has failed… If the need arises, we will parade 130 MLAs before the governor or even the President,” he told.
A belligerent Manjhi has refused to step down from the chief minister’s post after terming the party’s meeting yesterday “unconstitutional”. He is said to be exploring possibility of getting the BJP’s support to remain in the top post.
Manjhi is also open to the dissolution of the Assembly so that fresh elections may be held, a demand also made by Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
Tyagi said any move to dissolve the Assembly would be illegal it was the only place for proving a majority or the lack thereof and cited several Supreme Court judgements in this regard.
JD(U) President Sharad Yadav will meet Bihar Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi tomorrow to inform him about the party MLAs’ decision to elect Kumar as their new leader and also stake claim to form a new government, he said, noting that RJD, Congress and the Left are also supporting Kumar.
Although BJP has expressed its sympathy for Manjhi – who comes from the politically significant Mahadalit community — and accuses JD(U) of insulting an SC leader, the party is wary of lending him its support as it has in the past severely criticised his tenure as chief minister.
A section within BJP also believes that dissolution of the Assembly to pave the way for early elections could be a move that backfires.
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 had met to replace Manjhi with Kumar as their new leader, underlining the lack of support for the chief minister within his own party.