Bihar turmoil: Nitish Kumar can continue as JD(U) legislative party leader, says Patna High Court
The Patna High Court on Thursday ordered that Nitish Kumar could continue as JD(U) legislative party leader.
Patna: The Patna High Court declined to stay Nitish Kumar's election as the Janata Dal(United) legislature party leader on Thursday.
It said its order for legal examination of the Assembly Secretary's letter recognising Kumar as JD(U) LP leader should not be construed as interference in the internal affairs of any party.
"The order should not be construed as any interference in the internal affairs of any party, including JD(U)," a division bench comprising Chief Justice LN Reddy and Justice Vikash Jain said.
Yesterday the Patna HC had virtually stayed his recognition as the leader of the JD(U) Legislature Party in place of Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, saying that they “intended to examine the legal implication of the letter issued by in-charge Secretary of Assembly (recognising Nitish Kumar as leader of JD(U) Legislature Party) so that the letter should have no legal consequences for a decision by the Governor.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice LN Reddy and Justice Vikash Jain had yesterday given the direction on a PIL filed by JD(U) MLA Rajeshwar Raj, who is siding with Manjhi.
Reacting to the court order today, JD(U) leader, PK Shahi said, “Court has clarified, previous order will have no effect on internal political party decisions including JD(U),” as per ANI.
After a legislature party meeting on Saturday in which the JD(U) replaced defiant CM Manjhi by electing Kumar as JD(U) LP leader, a delegation of leaders including Kumar, RJD President Lalu Prasad, Congress and CPI, met Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi to call Kumar to form a new government.
Shortly later, Manjhi also met the Governor and claimed that he had the majority and that he would prove it in a trial of strength in the Assembly at a time of Governor's choosing.
The PIL filed by JD(U) MLA, who is a Manjhi supporter, in the Patna High Court had challenged the legislature party meeting called by JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav on Saturday which elected Kumar the new JD(U) LP leader in place of Manjhi.
His counsel SBK Mangalam had told the court that Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhry took the decision on recognising Kumar as JD(U) LP leader in the Assembly without receiving an advise from the Governor. This amounted to usurping the power of the Governor, the counsel had said, as per PTI.
Yesterday, Nitish had met President Pranab Mukherjee in the national capital, parading about 130 MLAs supporting him, and later said that Manjhi could be asked to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly but in a "minimal time."
He was flanked by his party president Sharad Yadav, RJD leader Lalu Prasad, SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and Congress leader CP Joshi, who had accompanied Kumar during the meeting with the President.
Meanwhile, attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, Nitish alleged that he was behind the move to allow Manjhi more time to prove his majority so that "horse-trading" of MLAs could be done.
Denouncing the decision to ask Manjhi to prove majority on February 20 and not immediately as demanded by him, Kumar said the Governor was following the "script" written at the "highest level" in the national capital so that "license for horse-trading" given by the Centre could be executed.
Accusing ruling BJP of "throttling" democracy, he said the saffron party has told Manjhi to lure about 35 MLAs if he needed their support and is helping him in doing so.
Nitish's JD(U) had snapped ties with BJP over Modi's elevation ahead of Lok Sabha polls and the two leaders have often attacked each other.
Kumar said things were unfolding as Manjhi had said in his press conference on February 8 in Delhi after meeting PM Modi. While the Prime Minister's Office always releases photograph of a Chief Minister meeting the Prime Minister, it did not put out picture of Manjhi's meeting with Modi, he said.
The Budget Session is set to begin in the state from February 20 and Manjhi has been asked to prove his majority on the same day after the Governor's address.
"It will be a bizarre situation in which the Governor will read out address prepared by a Chief Minister who has support of only 12 MLAs," Kumar said.
With Agency inputs