PATNA (TIP): Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi tendered his resignation ahead of floor test in assembly Friday, February 20. In a good news for the embattled CM, BJP announced yesterday, February 19 that it will support the ‘Mahadalit’ CM during the floor test.
“After a long meeting of the BJP legislators, the party has decided to support Manjhi during his confidence vote in the Assembly,” said BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
The BJP’s offer of support came on a day when Bihar Speaker Uday Narain Choudhary notified JD-U leader Vijay Kumar Chaudhary as the leader of opposition, replacing Nand Kishore Yadav of the BJP.
The Speaker also accepted former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s demand that Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) be given the status of the main opposition party.
Following the Speaker’s decision, BJP MLAs created a ruckus and protested in the Assembly complex.
“How could the Speaker take away the opposition party tag from the BJP?” asked senior party leader Shahnawaz Hussain.
“We protest against this move as well as the way the JD-U is treating Manjhi, who is a Mahadalit,” Hussain said at a press conference in New Delhi.
He also said that the BJP has nothing to do with the charges of horse-trading being made by the Nitish Kumar’s camp.
Manjhi, after being expelled from the JD-U on February 9, has been declared as an unattached member in the Assembly. He was expelled for allegedly “indulging in anti-party activities”. But he had refused to resign and was to prove his majority in the house on Friday, February 20.
Throwing all ethical standards to wind, Manjhi said on February 19 that he will offer Cabinet berths to legislators, who will support him during the confidence motion. “Aaiye mera samarthan kijiye, mantri pad lijiye (come to support me and become a minister),” he told reporters, attending a function here.
Also yesterday, the Patna High Court ordered that eight rebel JD-U legislators, considered close to Manjhi, would not vote during the confidence motion in the Assembly.
A bench of Justice Iqbal Ahmad barred the JD-U MLAs from voting after hearing their petition, seeking permission to vote during the floor test.
Manjhi was picked by Nitish Kumar as his replacement when he quit last year after JDU’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls.
In the 243-member Assembly, the JDU has 115 legislators — most of whom are with Nitish Kumar. The party has the support of 24 Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) legislators, five Congress MLAs, two Independents and a CPI MLA.
The BJP has 88 legislators and is supported by three Independents.
The ball now is in governor’s court. Coming days will be watched with interest by all parties involved in the power play in Bihar.