Patna, Feb 6: Bihar's ruling JD-U appears to be headed for a split over the likely replacement of Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi by his predecessor Nitish Kumar.
A day after JD-U president Sharad Yadav called a meeting of its legislature party Saturday, amid speculation that Manjhi will be removed, Manjhi Friday called a meeting of the JD-U legislature party Feb 20.
Earlier, Manjhi refused to resign and termed the Sharad Yadav-convened meeting illegal and unconstitutional.
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) national general secretary K.C. Tyagi Friday said that a majority of party leaders, including legislators, were with Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar.
Two ministers, Brishen Patel and Nitish Mishra, Friday declared their support to Manjhi and said they would not attend the legislature meeting called by Sharad Yadav.
Patel and Mishra are considered close to Manjhi. Last month, JD-U spokesperson Alok Ajai sought their resignation as they were allegedly likely move to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"I am with Manjhi... Manjhi himself has declared that he won't attend the legislature meeting," Mishra told the media after meeting the chief minister.
"Only Manjhi is authorized to call the JD-U legislature party meeting."
Manjhi also enjoys the support of over a dozen party legislators. But he is banking on the support of the BJP, which is openly backing him.
JD-U spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said party leaders have to abide by the decision of Sharad Yadav.
"Those who are terming the meeting unconstitutional should read the party constitution first," he said.
Nitish Kumar is yet to say anything over the ongoing developments in the party.
The JD-U has 115 legislators in the 243-member assembly.
It is supported by 24 legislators of Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal, five of the Congress, one from the Communist Party of India and two independents, making it a total of 147 -- more than the 122 needed for a simple majority.
The BJP has 88 legislators and it has the support of three independents. Five seats are vacant.