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No plan to replace Manjhi: Nitish Kumar

As infighting continued in JD(U), senior party leader Nitish Kumar on Monday dismissed any "plan" to replace Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.

Patna: As infighting continued in JD(U), senior party leader Nitish Kumar on Monday dismissed any "plan" to replace Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.

"There is no plan in the party to remove Jitan Ram Manjhi from the post of Chief Minister," Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of a book release function at Phulwarisharif.

"He (Manjhi) is doing his work and there is no plan in JD(U) to remove Manjhi from the CM's post," Kumar said amid reports of power tussle between him and Manjhi.

"I had resigned (from the CM's post) taking a responsible decision and chose Manjhi to succeed me and since than never looked at CM's post," he said.

Kumar sought to play down party spokesman Ajay Alok seeking resignation of three ministers for their alleged proximity to BJP.

Such things happen in every party and there was nothing unusual that it happened in JD(U), he said and hit out at BJP for taking advantage of situation to attack JD(U) and its government.

"Initially BJP used to allege that I am running Manjhi government by remote. Now they say I and other leaders are trying to topple him.

"I have heard about split personality. But in the present situation, entire BJP is appearing to have a split personality," he said.

Kumar has called a meeting of JD(U) leaders at his official residence here tomorrow, party sources said.

Kumar's statement came amid reports of infighting within ruling JD(U) with many ministers complaining against Alok, who, however, sounded unrepentant for his comments.

Senior minister Narendra Singh, who is among the three ministers whose resignation has been sought by Alok, had met Kumar at his residence last night and complained against the party spokesman.

Singh, who is the state Agriculture Minister and reportedly siding with Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi in the power tussle with Kumar, also spoke to JD(U) President Sharad Yadav over phone on the issue, according to sources.

Two other ministers whose resignations were sought are Brishen Patel and Nitish Mishra. Alok's demand has been resented by many ministers, including Mahachandra Prasad Singh, Baidyanath Sahni and Javed Iqbal Ansari who rebuked Alok for it.

Alok, however, stood his ground. "Government is formed by a party but there is no party of the government... I am spokesman of JD(U) and not the government," he told PTI and refused to withdraw his demand seeking resignation of the three ministers.

The spokesman said though one of the three ministers (Narendra Singh) had complained against him to Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav, "He has at least spoken on the subject reaffirming faith in the party...But what about the rest two? Kya vey ghora bech kar so rahe hai (are they sleeping peacefully?)"

Another JD(U) spokesman Neeraj Kumar expressed objection to Manjhi attending Makar Sankranti feast at the residence of Sadhu Yadav, the controversial and estranged brother in-law of RJD chief Lalu Prasad.

Bihar JD(U) chief Basistha Narayan Singh, who is in Delhi, said over phone that he would talk to "everybody" after reaching Patna tomorrow to impose discipline in the party.

While anger continued to be voiced by JD(U) ministers and leaders, a minister Jai Kumar Singh and a senior legislator Manjit Kumar Singh have demanded that Kumar once again assume charge of chief ministership "without loss of time".

After Kumar resigned from the post of chief minister owning responsibility for the party's debacle in the general election last year, JD(U) LP had accepted his decision to nominate Manjhi to the post till the Assembly polls in the state slated for later this year.

But barely months later, reports of differences between the two leaders started making headlines in the wake of assertions by Manjhi like chopping hands of doctors, drawing a bigger line than Kumar in terms of development which embarrassed both Kumar and the party.

Earlier, the matter was resolved after Manjhi went to Kumar's house and had more than two hour-long closed door meeting with him.

Sharad Yadav had late last week called Manjhi at Kumar's residence to douse the fire but the very next day the Chief Minister had visited Sadhu Yadav's house in the name of Makar Sankranti feast.

His visit to the controversial leader's house sparked controversy within the party.

JD(U) state party spokesman Neeraj Kumar criticised the visit and suggested that Manjhi stick to implementing 'sushaasan' (good governance) as in the times of Nitish Kumar.