No decision on Jitan Ram Manjhi at JD(U) meeting

Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi did not attend an important meeting of the JD(U) and there was no word on decision to remove him from the chief minister's post after the meeting.

PTI| Updated: Feb 04, 2015, 22:56 PM IST

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi did not attend an important meeting of the JD(U) and there was no word on decision to remove him from the chief minister's post after the meeting.

Manjhi did not turn up for meeting at 7 Circular Road residence of Nitish Kumar this evening in which MPs and those who had contested general election were called.

Manjhi had contested unsuccessfully from Gaya (SC) seat and was expected to be present in the meeting.

JD(U) president Sharad Yadav said the issue on decision on on Manjhi was not on the agenda.

"There was no talk over Manjhi. It was not on agenda of the meeting," Yadav told reporters after the meeting.

Seeking to play down the speculation, he said the evening meeting was in connection with JD(U)'s statewide rally in Patna on February 15.

"I, being a Rajya Sabha member from party, had come here in this connection only. All party MPs and those who contested Lok Sabha election, they all have been put to work for the success of the rally," the JD(U) president said.

Asked about absence of Manjhi, he said there would be talk with him and the Chief Minister would also work for success of the rally.

He evaded a reply whether Manjhi would last as Chief Minister till November saying "the question itself is wrong."

JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi, who also attended the meeting, told reporters that there was no talk on removal of Manjhi or on internal matters of the party.

On Manjhi not attending the meeting, he said, "He is now Chief Minister and not only a nominee of JD(U) who had contested last Parliamentary poll."

Sources in the Chief Minister's Office said Manjhi was busy with a meeting of PHED department.

Speculation was rife since morning that a decision could be taken on Manjhi contining on Chief Minister's chair amid reports of heightening of conflict between pro-Nitish and pro-Manjhi leaders.

The immediate trigger was Manjhi publiclly talking about poor performance of Road Construction Department (RCD) which forced him to change the Secretary. Nitish Kumar's close aide Rajiv Ranjan Lallan is the RCD minister.

Earlier in the day, Manjhi feigned ignorance about his removal. "You all know from where such reports have come from. I am a CM and discharging my duty," Manjhi told reporters.

When asked that many leaders were talking about his removal, Manjhi shot back asking, "Has Nitish Kumar said this to you?"

Tyagi said till the merger of splinter parties of old Janata Parivar is not complete, all parties are free to pursue their programmes.

"The February 15 rally has been decided beforehand and it is in continuance of Nitish Kumar's "Samparak yatra," he said.

There was an unpleasant scene at the gate of Nitish Kumar's residence in the evening when former MP Ranjan Prasad Yadav had a tiff with security personnel.

When asked to wait at the gate, Yadav became angry and told reporters "MPs have been called for meeting and see we are stopped at the gate".

Earlier, answering a question on possibility of Nitish Kumar being made the chief minister again, the JD(U) general secretary said, "Nitish Kumar is 'sarvamanya' (all accepted) leader of the party and does not need anybody's 'sifarish' (recommendation)."

On the chances of Manjhi's ouster, Tyagi had said, "The legislature party will decide about the CM."

Amid reports of strife within JD(U), BJP leader Sushil Modi suggested Manjhi to dissolve the Assembly before he was forced to quit the chair.

In the 243-member Bihar House, ruling JD(U) has 115 members. It enjoys the support of 24 members of RJD, 5 of Congress, 1 of CPI and two Independents which goes much ahead of magic figure of 122. BJP has 88 members and it enjoys support of 3 independents. Five seats are vacant in the House.

On Manjhi, in his capacity as leader of the House, not calling the meeting of JD(U) legislature party, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shrawan Kumar said there was a provision as per which party state president could call such a meeting.

"The leader of Legislature party is chosen at a meeting called by state party chief, so he has all the rights to convene a meeting of legislators," Kumar, who is also JD(U) Chief Whip and a close aide of Nitish, said.