Nitish, legislators reach Delhi; Manjhi announces quotas

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Patna/New Delhi, Feb 10: Aiming to put pressure on Bihar Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi for inviting him to form the next government in the state, former chief minister Nitish Kumar reached New Delhi Tuesday to parade the legislators supporting him at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday.

Embattled Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi Tuesday sought to play the "reservation card" as his cabinet approved reservation for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes in all government contracts of road construction up to Rs.50 lakh and reservation for poor upper castes in government jobs.

Nitish arrives in Delhi with MLAs

Earlier, Nitish Kumar and 130 legislators supporting him left for New Delhi in two batches, Janata Dal-United chief whip Shrawan Kumar said.

"In the first batch, 60 legislators, and in second batch, 70 legislators along with Nitish Kumar left for Delhi," he said in Patna.

Party MP K.C. Tyagi told IANS that Nitish Kumar had reached the national capital, and was likely to meet President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday.

He said the party would urge the president to ask the governor to invite Nitish Kumar to form the government as he has the majority.

"Since we have not heard a decision from the governor, we have come to the president," Tyagi told IANS.

Meanwhile, Manjhi, who insisted that he remained chief minister till he fails to prove his majority in the state assembly, had called a cabinet meeting Tuesday where it was speculated that he may recommend dissolution of the state assembly. It was in the meeting that the decision on the quotas was taken.

A JD-U leader close to Manjhi, however, said he "may or may not recommend dissolution of the state assembly, but by holding a cabinet meeting, he wanted to send a strong message that he is still the chief minister".

Principal Secretary in the Cabinet Coordination Department B. Pradhan said the cabinet meeting approved reservation for SC/STs in all government contracts of Rs.50 lakh, as well as the proposal for reservation of poorest of the poor upper castes in government jobs.

Nitish Kumar earlier Tuesday said he and the legislators would go to Delhi to meet the president as they did not receive any invitation from the governor a day after staking claim to form the next government.

He, along with 130 legislators of his JD-U, the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD), the Congress and the Communist Party of India (CPI) Monday went to Raj Bhavan in Patna to show his strength.

Nitish Kumar has accused Manjhi, who was expelled from the JD-U Monday, of trying to organise defections to stay in power.

"It appears that Manjhi has got a horse-trading licence after he met Modi in Delhi," he said, referring to the chief minister's meeting in Delhi Sunday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Manjhi was hand-picked by then chief minister Nitish Kumar as his replacement when he quit last year following the JD-U's rout in the Lok Sabha polls.

In the 243-member assembly, the JD-U has 115 legislators -- most of whom are reportedly with Nitish Kumar. It is backed by 24 legislators of the RJD, five of the Congress, two independents and one from the CPI.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 88 legislators and is supported by three independents.

IANS

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