Patna: Uneasiness inside JD(U) with Jitan Ram Manjhi on Thursday came to the fore after five of his Cabinet colleagues skipped an official programme being attended by the Bihar Chief Minister, who is already embattled by the row over appointment of his son-in-law as Personal Assistant.
The chief minister also made a candid comment that his days as Chief Minister are numbered.
"Mujhe pata hai main kuch dino ke liye hi CM hu (I know that I am CM for a few days only)," Manjhi said in his address at a seminar organised by 'Sikshak Sangrah Morcha'.
While he was addressing the seminar, five chairs beside him with name plates of the ministers remained vacant on stage at S K Memorial hall.
The ministers, who were conspicuous with their absence, are -- HRD minister Brishen Patel, Rural Development and Parliamentary Affairs Shrawan Kumar, Food minister Shyam Rajak, Urban Development minister Samrat Chaudhary and Animal Husbandry minister Baidyanath Sahni.
Manjhi also said that he does not have "extraordinary calibre" so that leaders appoint him as CM of the secular alliance.
The absence of ministers from the programme kicked off heated political debates about future of Manjhi as CM amid reports of power tussle between him and his predecessor Nitish Kumar.
All the five absentee ministers are close confidante of Nitish Kumar.
But the ministers sought to play down the event with some of them saying they had no formal invitation while others mentioned other engagements.
However, Shrawan Kumar, President of the organisation 'Bihar Rajya Arajkiye Prarambhik Sikshak Sangrah Morcha', said they had invited all the five ministers.
"They had assured us that they will come...But nobody came...What can we do about it?" he said.
"I had told the organisers before hand that I have to go to another programme," HRD minister Brishen Patel, who was mentioned as chief guest at the seminar with the CM, told PTI.
Shyam Rajak and Samrat Chaudhary claimed they had no official invitation for the seminar and their names were not even mentioned in the invitation card for the programme.