PATNA (TIP): JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav on February 5 called for a meeting of party MLAs on Saturday amid whispers that chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi might have to resign well before the legislature party meeting on February 23, ostensibly to elect a new leader – though Manjhi is unlikely to give up without a fight.
In fact, sources close to Manjhi said he is likely to challenge Sharad’s decision to call for a meeting of party MLAs, with one minister in the CM’s camp, Mahachandra Singh, as well as JD(U) rebel Gyanendra Singh ‘Gyanoo’ asserting that such a meeting would be illegal as only CM is authorized to convene it.
Sources also said if pushed, Manjhi may recommend the dissolution of the House on Friday with another Manjhi camp-follower, Shakuni Chaudhary, saying, “Manjhi is fire, and whoever tries to touch him would burn his hands.”
“The situation is delicate. We want a smooth transition. Negotiations are on,” said JD(U) secretary general K C Tyagi. Kumar’s groupies have been trying to persuade Manjhi to make way for Kumar without a show of strength, which is unacceptable to Kumar. Complicating things for Kumar is the fact that at least 25 JD(U) MLAs are backing Manjhi and would vote for him should the need arise.
Party sources said Manjhi may drop ministers loyal to Kumar before the February 7 legislature party meeting. They are Rajiv Ranjan Singh ‘Lallan’, P K Shahi, Ramai Ram and Shyam Rajak – all said to be behind the ‘Manjhi-hatao’ campaign. Manjhi has publicly criticized the road construction ministry headed by Lallan.
Meanwhile, sources said Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav called Kumar on phone and advised him to take over as CM if he was serious about taking on the NDA in the assembly elections later this year. His advice is believed to be expediting the change of leadership.