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Nitish Kumar Escalates Standoff in the Ruling Bihar JD(U)

Nitish escalated the stand-off in ruling JD (U) by threatening to take the battle to the President if his claim to form government is not accepted.

Published: 09th February 2015 08:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2015 08:15 PM   |  A+A-

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In this file photo, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (PTI)

By PTI

PATNA: Nitish Kumar today escalated the stand-off in the ruling JD (U) in Bihar by threatening to take the battle to the President if his claim to form the government is not accepted while expelled Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi sought a trial of strength by secret vote in the Assembly.

On yet another day of hectic developments, the JD(U) expelled Manjhi from the party for "anti-party" activities and the Speaker declared him an unattached MLA.

Former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has now been elected leader of the JD (U) legislature party, met Governor K N Tripathi and produced before him a list of 130 supporting MLAs in a House, with an effective strength of 233, belonging to JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI and an independent.

After the meeting with the Governor, Kumar said he told Tripathi that he was ready to prove his majority in 24 hours or 48 hours, whatever the deadline the Governor may chose to give.

Flanked by RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav and JD(U) President Sharad Yadav, Kumar said they requested the Governor that a new government should be in place before the budget session of the Assembly starting from February 20.

Kumar said if an opportunity is denied to him to form government or in the event of any 'dilly dallying', he would parade 130 MLAs of JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI and one independent before President Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi.

The three leaders described the meeting as "satisfactory".

The Governor was also told that the 130 MLAs  upporting Kumar were waiting outside Raj Bhawan wearing their I-cards issued by the assembly secretariat and if he wished he could meet them, Kumar said, adding, "on this, the Governor said 'There is no need of it."

Embattled Manjhi came calling on the Governor shortly later and told him that he can prove majority on the floor of the House whenever asked.

Kumar said he had pointed out reasons to the Governor for having a government in place before the assembly budget session, which was starting from February 20 when Tripathi would have to address a joint session of the two houses on opening day.

"Which government's speech will you read? Budget of which government will be taken up during the session ?" Kumar said he asked the Governor.

Sharad Yadav said "We told the Governor the writing is on the wall as to who has the majority ... We urged him to invite Nitish Kumar to form the government without any delay."

Out of a total of 130 MLAs whose letters of support were submitted to Tripathi, 128 were physically present.

Two RJD MLAs, who are out of station, were not present.

"RJD MLAs Durga Prasad Singh and Ambika Prasad Yadav are out of Patna and that is why they are not here. But the entire flock of 24 RJD MLAs are one with the decision of Lalu Prasad to support Nitish Kumar," RJD spokesman Ezaj Ahmad told reporters.

CLP leader Sadanand Singh, lone CPI MLA Awdesh Roy and an independent MLA Dulal Chand Goswami were also present in support of Kumar.

Kumar said they told the Governor about Manjhi's assertions yesterday after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi that cabinet expansion would be carried soon and two deputy chief ministers would be inducted in his ministry.

"This is an open game of horse trading," Kumar said, adding, "An environment of instability was being created in the state."

Referring to his position as the new JD(U)LP leader, Kumar said that after polls Election Commission notifies the status of party in the House. "But during rest of the term it is the Assembly Speaker who states the status of the members and the parties ... In the present case, the Assembly Speaker has already given recognition to me as new JD(U)LP leader."

Manjhi said he has also apprised the Governor about a writ filed in Patna High Court today by MLA Rajeshwar Raj challenging the election of Kumar as JD(U)LP leader at an "unconstitutional" meeting called by party president Sharad

Yadav on Saturday last. Raj is a JD(U) MLA and is supporting Manjhi.

BJP with 87 members in the Assembly, whose effective strength at present is 233, is the main hope for Manjhi for his survival if he musters the support of 30 other MLAs. The magic figure is 117.

Sharad Yadav said "We told the Governor the writing is on the wall as to who has the majority ... We urged him to invite Nitish Kumar to form the government without any delay."

Out of a total of 130 MLAs whose letters of support were submitted to Tripathi, 128 were physically present.

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