A meeting of the JD(U) Legislature Party in Bihar has been called on February seven amid speculation of continuance of Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi who last night dubbed it “unauthorised” and ruled out quitting.
Amid reports that he is under pressure to make way for his predecessor Nitish Kumar, Manjhi took an aggressive position, escalating tension in the ruling party.
The Legislature Party meeting was called by JD(U) President Sharad Yadav yesterday even as he met Nitish twice during the day and than spent an hour with Manjhi at the CM’s official residence.
“A meeting of JD(U) Legislature party has been called on February 7 on the direction of party President Sharad Yadav,” Parliamentary Affairs minister Shrawan Kumar told reporters.
Manjhi rubbished as “baseless” news about his resignation.
“The right to call Legislature party meeting rests with leader of the Legislature party (Chief Minister). The notice of meeting called on February 7 is not an authorised one,” he said in a statement.
“Mukhya Mantri ke istiphe ki khabar bebuniyad hain iska khandan kiya jata hain (news about resignation of CM is baseless, it’s strongly denied),” a terse statement in Hindi issued by CM’s Office said tonight.
After returning to state capital from Jehanabad in the evening, Manjhi was closeted with his close supporters regarding the late evening development.
After the meeting with some ministers and legislators, Manjhi’s office released the statement describing the Legislature party meet as “unauthorised”.
The development apparently reflects signs of unease in the JD(U) and a clearcut approach of Manjhi not to go without a fight.
Reports suggest that Manjhi would not participate in the February 7 meeting called by Sharad Yadav.
PHED minister Mahachandra Singh told reporters outside the CM house that the right to call Legislature party meeting of the ruling party rests with the Leader of the House.
Some ministers and Legislators also rushed to Manjhi’s residence to pledge support.
HRD minister Brishen Patel, Mahachandra Singh and Urban Development minister Samrat Chaudhary were among the ministers who met Manjhi, CMO sources said.
Senior JD(U) leader Shakuni Chaudhary and rebel MLAs Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo and Ravindra Rai also rushed to CM house apparently to lend support to Manjhi in the power tussle in the party.
While reports of pressure being exerted on Manjhi to make way for Nitish kept doing the rounds in corridors of power, the chief minister feigned ignorance.
“Media is saying so…has Nitish Kumar said anything on my resignation,” Manjhi told reporters in Jehanabad.
When media persons asked Nitish about the possibility of him taking over from Manjhi, he declined to give any response.