The last-minute patch up efforts between Jitan Ram Manjhi and his party JD(U) failed today and the Chief Minister went ahead with proposing dissolution of the Assembly which was overwhelmingly rejected by Cabinet ministers at a meeting here.
The proposal for dissolving the Assembly was supported by seven ministers besides Manjhi, while 21 pro-Nitish Kumar ministers opposed it, state Finance Minister Bijendra Yadav told reporters.
The proposal to dissolve the Assembly was moved by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh at the meeting attended by all the 29 ministers.
Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan and P K Shahi did not attend as Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi earlier in the day had accepted the Chief Minister’s recommendation to dismiss them as ministers.
Food Minister Shyam Rajak, a close confidante of Kumar, told reporters that those who sided with Manjhi and approved the proposal to dissolve the assembly were Narendra Singh, Brishen Patel, Binay Bihari, Shahid Ali Khan, Nitish Mishra, Bhim Singh and Mahachandra Prasad Singh.
The cabinet meeting took place immediately after Manjhi’s meeting with Kumar for nearly two hours of talks, which was seen as last-ditch effort for a patch up between two warring groups within JD(U).
Manjhi, who has been defying the party leadership’s directive of resigning, drove to the residence of Kumar, his mentor, with whom he has been locked in tussle.
The meeting at Kumar’s residence was also attended by JD(U) President Sharad Yadav.
Senior pro-Manjhi ministers Narendra Singh and Brishen Patel accompanied the Chief Minister in his car.
The ball for patch up effort was set rolling by Narendra Singh, a senior JD(U) leader who is the agriculture minister. He visited Kumar’s residence around 11 AM and then the CM’s residence before accompanying Manjhi to Kumar’s residence.
Labour minister Dulal Chand Goswami, who met also Manjhi, told reporters that the two leaders (Kumar and Manjhi) will hammer out a solution.
Another minister Binay Bihari, a Manjhi supporter, told reporters outside the CM’s residence that he was not in favour of dissolution of the assembly.
JD(U) General Secretary K C Tyagi, a supporter of Sharad Yadav, blamed BJP for triggering the crisis in the JD(U) government. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah have written the script of the going on in Bihar.”
He said Manjhi’s closeness to BJP and his praise for Modi was making him do all that he was doing.
Amid the power tussle in JD(U), senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi today left for Delhi to apprise the party’s central leadership on the political situation.
Before leaving for Delhi, he held a meeting with Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Nand Kishore Yadav, state party president Mangal Pandey and others at his residence.
Nand Kishore Yadav said BJP was keeping a watch over the situation and would take a decision after taking stock of the prevailing situation.
“The event is happening within ruling JD(U). Let us see what happens there ultimately,” he told reporters.
BJP has 87 members in the 243-member state Assembly.