Patna(PTI): Senior Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar will be sworn in as the Chief…
PATNA(PTI): Facing imminent defeat, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday resigned ahead of the trust vote, saying that he decided to step down as his supporters were issued death threats and he did not want the legislators to lose their Assembly membership.
“When it became apparent that Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary, who is acting on the direction of somebody will never allow secret ballot during confidence vote, I thought it will not be wise on my part to put my supporting MLAs in danger and resigned,” Manjhi told reporters at his residence. Returning from the Raj Bhawan after submitting his resignation, Manjhi did not go to the Assembly and instead held a press conference at his residence.
Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi had asked the Speaker to choose between lobby division and secret ballot for the trust vote. Manjhi claimed he had majority support of 140 MLAs, but thought of not to proceed ahead considering the threat of bloodshed and harassment of MLAs siding with him. He said after submitting his resignation, he urged the Governor to take future decision in the best interest of the state. All eight ministers, seven of JD(U) and one Independent, were by his side at the press conference.
He launched a blistering attack on Nitish Kumar and Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary. Manjhi claimed 40-52 JD(U) MLAs were in his favour “but due to fear of Nitish Kumar they did not want to be seen with me and when it became clear that there will be no secret ballot I thought I shall not put them in trouble and decided to quit.” He claimed that a large number of JD(U) MLAs visited his residence around 1 AM from backdoor from Nitish Kumar’s residence. “There was fear on their faces and I thought I should not put them in trouble by exposing them to Nitish Kumar camp by going ahead with trust vote and decided to quit,” he said.
Asked if he was contemplating forming a new party, Manjhi told reporters that he has called a meeting of his supporters in Patna on February 28 and if such views emerged, he would consider it. Manjhi also took potshots at RJD President Lalu Prasad and questioned his silence in the last 15 days. “Lalu Prasad used to say that with the appointment of a person of Mahadalit caste as CM, great work had been done. But, why is he silent for the past 15 days?” Manjhi said.
Launching a scathing attack on his mentor Nitish Kumar, he alleged large scale horse trading from his camp. “MLAs told me about an offer of Rs 2 crore, a ministerial berth and ticket for Assembly election from any seat of their choice from Nitish Kumar camp,” he alleged. Manjhi flayed the Speaker’s conduct, which he alleged was “against the laid down democratic tradition.” “Membership of four of our MLAs were not restored by the Assembly Speaker despite a single bench of the Patna High Court setting aside his decision on termination of their membership,” he said.
“I thought it not wise to put more MLAs in the legal tangle by supporting me and spending Rs 4-5 lakh on fighting court battle ahead of Assembly election later this year,” he said justifying his decision to quit.
Manjhi accused Nitish Kumar of not giving him freedom to work. “It is true that for 2-3 months I acted like a rubber stamp. I used to get list of transfer and posting of officials from Nitish Kumar on which I had to simply put my signature,” he said, adding “bahut kuntha me the (I was living in humiliating condition).”
Manjhi was handpicked by Nitish Kumar to succeed him after he resigned in May last year following debacle in the general election.
Manjhi, who rebelled against Nitish Kumar, was expelled by JD(U) and was to prove his majority after the Governor’s address today. Yesterday, the BJP announced support to Manjhi but he still did not have the numbers to win the trust vote after JD(U) and its allies, RJD and Congress, rallied behind Nitish Kumar. Kumar said Manjhi’s resignation has vindicated his plea to the Governor that not much time be given for the trust vote. “Our stand has been vindicated,” he told reporters at the Assembly premises.
“Everything is happening after 14 days, that also surprisingly,” Kumar said, adding, “the BJP game plan has been exposed”. Highly placed sources in Nitish Kumar’s office said that Kumar would hold meeting with senior leaders of JD(U) and supporting parties RJD, Congress, CPI and an Independent MLA to chalk out future course of action.
Earlier, JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI MLAs and one Independent legislator supporting Nitish had decided to boycott the Governor’s speech in the joint session of Bihar Legislature. The decision to boycott the Governor’s speech was to register protest at his action of not hearing Nitish Kumar’s plea to ask Manjhi to prove his majority in 48 hours and instead giving him 14 days time which “facilitated horse trading,” JD(U) Chief Whip Shrawan Kumar said.