The ruling JD(U) in Bihar today appeared headed for a showdown between Nitish Kumar and his defiant protege and Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of the legislature party that can oust the incumbent CM.
Knives were out between the two factions with Manjhi terming tomorrow’s meeting as “unauthorised” and instead calling a Legislature Party meeting in his capacity as Leader of the House on February 20.
For tomorrow’s meeting called by party President Sharad Yadav, notices were today sent to 111 party MLAs and 41 members of Legislative Council including Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Nitish Kumar.
Sources said that at tomorrow’s meeting there could be a move to handover reins of the government back to Nitish Kumar, but the transition would not be easy as Manjhi adopted a confrontationist approach.
A rebellious Manjhi is scheduled to leave for Delhi tomorrow to take part in the Niti Ayog meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, making it clear that he would not attend tomorrow’s Legislature party meeting.
JD(U) General Secretary K C Tyagi told reporters that Manjhi could be removed from the party if he violates discipline and not attend tomorrow’s meeting.
Manjhi reacted angrily to the remarks. “Tyagi has gone mad,” he told reporters in Khagaria.
The fight between the two groups spilled on to the streets today. Supporters of Kumar and Manjhi clashed outside state JD(U) headquarters.
JD(U) sources said some people under the banner of Dalit Mushar Chetna Samiti assembled outside the party office, shouted slogans and burnt effigy of Nitish Kumar.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna, Jitendra Rana said police force has been deployed there after the incident.
The protesters also allegedly attacked some people believed to be supporters of the former Chief Minister, who had quit after the Lok Sabha election debacle last year and had handpicked Manjhi to succeed him.
In a fighting mood, Manjhi described tomorrow’s meeting called by JD(U) president Sharad Yadav as “unauthorised” and instead has called a meeting of legislators at his residence on February 20 at 7 PM.
Tyagi, however, described the meeting called by the party President as “valid”.
According to JD(U) constitution, under Rule 21, the party the President has the power to call a meeting of Legislature Party, he told reporters.
Meanwhile, BJP was adopting a “wait and watch” approach.
“We are keeping a watch over the situation and will take a decision at right time…all options are open for BJP,” senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi told PTI when asked if BJP would extend support to Manjhi in case he is removed by his own party.
Some ministers including HRD minister Brishen Patel, Nitish Mishra, Mahachandra Prasad Singh and Narendra Singh came to CM’s residence to express support to him.
Rebel JD(U) MLAs Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo and Ravindra Rai also arrived at Manjhi residence to chalk out their strategy.
Kumar’s residence was also abuzz with activities.
A training programme for JD(U) dalit, mahadalit and schedule tribe cell was held at Kumar’s residence. JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, K C Tyagi and a large number of ministers were present there.
Now, all eyes are on One Anne Marg residence of CM where loyal ministers would assemble on his return.