Nitish to stake claim, Manjhi wants trial of strength


Nitish will meet Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi at 1.30 PM on Monday, Raj Bhavan sources said after JD(U) submitted letters of support of the RJD, Congress, CPI and an independent MLA claiming that the former chief minister Nitish had the backing of 130 MLAs in a 243-member House.

Bihar Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary too recognised Nitish Kumar as the new JD(U) LP leader.

Manjhi, who was in the national capital in connection with the meeting of NITI Aayog, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday amid speculation that BJP could play a crucial role in a possible trial of strength.

Meanwhile, the Governor accepted the resignation of 20 cabinet Ministers loyal to Nitish, who put in their papers on Sunday. Governor took action on the advice of Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, PRO to Governor S K Pathak said.

In the 243-member assembly, JD(U) has 111 MLAs, BJP 87, RJD 24, Congress 5 besides 5 independents, while ten seats are vacant. With the present effective strength of the assembly at 233, the magic figure is 117.

Insisting that he is still the Chief Minister, Manjhi, who is a mahadalit, said he will step down only after he fails to prove majority on the floor of the House.

Manjhi said politics was not discussed during his meeting with Prime Minister Modi on Sunday but added that the support of the BJP, the ruling party at the Centre, is welcome.

“Assembly is the place to prove majority. I have already written to the Governor for convening Budget Session of the Assembly. I will prove my majority on February 19 or 20. If Nitish Kumar has numbers, why is he unduly worried. If they prove I do not have numbers, I will step down,” he told reporters soon after meeting Modi.

He termed the actions of Nitish-led faction as “illegal and unconstitutional”.

Attacking Nitish, he said the former Bihar Chief Minister was happy as long as he was a “rubber stamp” but when his “self-respect woke up” and he began acting independently, he began plotting his removal.

“I know he is a good man. But he cannot live without power. He thought I am a Maha-Dalit and of average intellect. For 34-35 years in politics, I played a dumb as leaders with background like me were either killed or sidelined if they dared to speak,” he said, claiming he drew a bigger line than Kumar in “social engineering” which caused envy.

Initiating the process of government formation under Nitish, state JD(U) president Bashistha Narayan Singh accompanied by leaders of RJD, Congress, CPI and an independent MLA visited Raj Bhawan and submitted the letters of support.

The Governor will arrive on Monday.

“Nitish Kumar will himself meet the Governor tomorrow to formally stake claim to form the government,” Singh told reporters after emerging from Raj Bhawan.

“We have submitted letters of support of the RJD, Congress, CPI and an independent MLA to the Raj Bhawan comprising total 130 MLAs in favour of Kumar, who was elected as JD(U)LP leader,” he said.

RJDLP leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui, his Congress counterpart Sadanand Singh, independent member and a former minister Dulal Chand Goswami and CPI leader Jitendra Narayan accompanied him to the Raj Bhawan.