Bihar CM meets Modi, Nitish-led JD-U to parade MLAs

Patna, Feb 8: The crisis in Bihar's ruling JD-U deepened further Sunday with Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his rival camp led by Nitish Kumar deciding to parade legislators at the Raj Bhavan Monday to stake claim to power.

Manjhi, hand-picked by Nitish Kumar as his replacement last year after the Lok Sabha polls, has refused to quit. On Saturday he left for New Delhi to attend the NITI Ayog meeting Sunday. He then called on Modi.

Nitish Kumar and Jitan Ram Manjhi

Janata Dal-United Bihar president Vashsisht Narain Singh told IANS that his party would form a new government in the state under Nitish Kumar's leadership with the backing of the Congress and Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal.

"We will parade 130 MLAs, including those of the Congress and RJD, before the governor Monday," he said.

The JD-U has 115 legislators in the 243-member assembly, most of whom are reportedly with Nitish Kumar.

It is backed by 24 legislators of the RJD, five of the Congress, one from the CPI and two independents, making it a total of 147 -- more than the 122 needed for a simple majority.

Manjhi enjoys the support of over a dozen JD-U legislators. He is banking on the support of the BJP, which has openly come out in his favour. The BJP has 88 legislators and it supported by three independents.

Earlier, the JD-U submitted letters of support to Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi staking claim to form the government, one day after Nitish Kumar was re-elected as the legislature party leader.

Singh said RJD's Abdul Bari Siddiqui and Congress' Sadanand Singh also submitted letters of support for Nitish Kumar to the governor.

"We have staked claim to form the next government," Sadanand Singh told the media. "There is a list of over 130 legislators out of the 243 in support of Nitish Kumar."

Sadanand Singh said the governor should invite Nitish Kumar to form the government. "Any delay to invite Nitish Kumar will encourage horse-trading."

Tripathi is currently in Kolkata as he is also the West Bengal governor. He is likely to arrive here late Sunday or Monday, officials said.

Meanwhile, JD-U leader launched fierce attacks on Manjhi, accusing him of playing into the hands of the BJP to harm the party ahead of assembly elections later this year.

"The BJP is behind whatever Manjhi is doing," JD-U national general secretary K.C. Tyagi said.

Added Vashsisht Narain Singh: "The BJP is taking advantage of Manjhi's lust for power."

Manjhi has refused to resign despite requests from Nitish Kumar and the JD-U to make way for the return of Nitish Kumar.


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