PATNA: Before the February 20 confidence vote in Bihar, a controversy has arisen with Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi appointing his loyalist as the chief whip while the incumbent Shrawan Kumar claiming it to be illegal and asserting that he continues to occupy the position.
Rajiv Ranjan, an MLA from Islampur in Nalanda district today claimed that in a letter dated February 7, Manjhi in the capacity as Leader of the House had sent a letter to the Assembly Speaker to appoint Ranjan as the chief whip in place of the incumbent Shrawan Kumar, a Nitish Kumar loyalist.
"But the Assembly Speaker is sitting on the request letter and delaying notification to this effect," Ranjan said.
He said if the matter was not settled in his favour, he would approach Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and also Parliamentary Affairs department on the subject.
Ranjan said he would issue a whip to all JD(U) members to vote for Manjhi during confidence vote and those violating it would be expelled.
"I will get the whip published in newspapers a day before that is on February 19 so that nobody has the excuse of not getting it at their address," Ranjan, who hails from Nitish Kumar's native Nalanda district but fell out with him said.
The incumbent JD(U) chief whip Shrawan Kumar, however, said it was an unconstitutional step and he continued to remain in the position.
"Has any notification recognizing Rajiv Ranjan as chief whip been issued by Assembly Secretariat?" Shrawan Kumar asked.
"Moreover Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi is no longer a member of JD(U) after being expelled from the party and declared unattached member in the Assembly, so what right does he have to appoint somebody as chief whip?" he told PTI over phone from New Delhi where he had gone as part of Nitish Kumar's team to meet the President.
Kumar who was Parliamentary Affairs minister before being dismissed by Manjhi, said the Parliamentary Affairs department does not have the power to notify anybody as chief whip as the power rests with the Assembly Speaker.
Meanwhile, another bone of contention has erupted over the Chief Minister's Office sending a letter to the Assembly Secretariat that two MLAs, Rajesh Singh and Dawood Ali would give the vote of thanks speech after Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi's address to the joint sitting of Legislature on February 20.
Both Singh and Ali, who owe allegiance to Nitish Kumar said their consent was not taken for this.
Rajesh Singh, JD(U) MLA from Balmikinagar in West Champaran said it was a case of "forgery" and he would seek legal option to initiate action against the move.
Dawood Ali, JD(U) MLA from Dumroan in Buxar district, said he could give vote of thanks speech only if the Governor reads the speech prepared by Nitish Kumar government and not of anybody else or any other party.