Bihar Assembly Speaker Chaudhary to hold all-party meet today

PATNA(PTI): Bihar Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary on Monday has called a meeting of all political parties in Patna to decide on different issues including the demand for the status of opposition party made by the Nitish Kumar group of JD(U).

He is expected to discuss the seating arrangements along with other details for February 20 where Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi will seek trust vote immediately after governor Keshari Nath Tripathi’s address to the joint session of legislative assembly and council.

Senior JD (U) leader and former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had earlier accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP of ‘attempting to throttle democracy’.

Kumar also alleged that the Bihar Governor’s decision to ask Manjhi to prove his majority in the state assembly on February 20 has been scripted in Delhi and is designed to ‘allow horse-trading of MLAs’.

Kumar, who is engaged in an intense tussle with Manjhi – the man he picked nine months ago to be the chief minister when he resigned after his party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls -, had earlier this week met President Pranab Mukherjee to convey the support of 130 MLAs.

Kumar, who was accompanied by JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, took the 130 MLAs to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to show that he enjoys majority support in the Bihar Assembly.

Meanwhile, Manjhi met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi yesterday.

Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Monday alleged that Nitish Kumar’s camp was trying to “frighten MLAs” by spreading rumours that he was “conspiring” with BJP to have President’s Rule imposed in Bihar and accused his rival of parading “bogus” MLAs.

Manjhi, who was expelled by the JD(U) after he refused to resign, said it was for BJP to decide if it wanted to support him or not and he had met Union ministers and Bihar Governor here for official work.

He said JD(U) and Kumar, who has staked claim to form the government in Bihar, were spreading rumours that President’s Rule will be imposed in Bihar to win over MLAs and said he had no such intentions. “They are frightening MLAs with rumour that I am working for imposing the President’s Rule in Bihar. It’s completely untrue. If I had wished so, I would have recommended it long back. I will win trust vote on February 20,” he told reporters, saying he has urged every party to support him.

Asked about Kumar’s claims that he had support of 130 MLAs, whom he had paraded when he went to meet Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi and President Pranab Mukherjee, Manjhi shot back, “Many of these MLAs were bogus.”

Manjhi’s aides said he was in the city to attend meetings, including those related to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s ongoing visit as Bihar is a key centre for Buddhism. JD(U) had yesterday alleged that Manjhi was working at the BJP behest and wanted imposition of the President’s Rule.

Congress too has attacked BJP accusing it of conspiring to destablise the JD(U) government. “There is no crisis in Bihar. It’s a conspiracy and the fountainhead of this conspiracy is BJP,” party leader Manish Tewari said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, however, rejected the charge, saying Janata Dal (United) was “Janata Dal divided” and the party was blaming BJP for its “blunders”.