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Floor test in Bihar Assembly, can BJP keep Manjhi afloat?

PATNA(PTI/IANS): All eyes are on Bihar Assembly today. CM Jitan Ram Manjhi is set to take a floor-test. Manjhi who was appointed CM by JDU after party’s LokSabha debacle had a fallout with party’s top leadership. Finally JDU decided to remove Manjhi from the post of CM but the leader didn’t pay any heed to party’s instruction. According to Manjhi, he has numbers on his side. BJP has lent support to Jitan Ram Manjhi, but the numbers still stack up heavily against current CM. Meanwhile, Speaker gave JD(U), the post of the opposition on Thursday.

In the 243-member Bihar assembly whose effective strength at present is 233, JD(U) has 110 MLAs including the Speaker, one unattached member in Manjhi, BJP 87, RJD 24, Congress 5, CPI 1, Independents 5 while 10 seats are vacant.

As both sides made last-ditch efforts to mobilise MLAs to their sides, JD(U) MLA Sharfuddin dropped a bombshell alleging before mediapersons that RJD MP Pappu Yadav had telephoned him offering money and a minister’s post if he supports Manjhi during the floor test.

“Pappu Yadav called me on my mobile and tried to lure me into supporting Manjhi by promising all sorts of things. He said I will be given a minister’s post, money and whatever I wish for if I vote in favour of Manjhi during the confidence vote,” Sharfuddin claimed with state party chief Basistha Narayan Singh by his side.

The MLA also played a purported recording of the phone call and said that he was staunchly with Nitish Kumar.

Pappu Yadav denied making the call and said he was prepared for any kind of inquiry. “I do not know Sharfuddin. I have nothing to do with him,” he told PTI.

Asked if he was working in Manjhi’s favour despite RJD’s stand to support Nitish Kumar, the MP said, “I am working to save only the poor. I am not an MLA who can mobilise legislators in favour of somebody. I have merely appealed to legislators to vote after hearing their conscience.”

His conduct has not gone down well with RJD and Lalu Prasad’s son Tejaswi Yadav reminding him that he is the party’s Lok Sabha member.

Meanwhile, Manjhi in his last public engagement before the confidence vote virtually dangled the carrot of ministerial berths to garner support from MLAs.

Manjhi, who was speaking at Garib Swabhiman Sammelan here, appealed to the people to request their MLAs to support him.

“You all should request your MLAs that they should support me if I have not done anything wrong in thinking about the poor. If they are going against me for becoming ministers, tell them I too have many such vacant posts. I will also make them ministers,” he said.

Later, he presided over a meeting of his cabinet, second one since yesterday, and approved many proposals.

Pledging support to Manjhi, BJP said that , “BJP will stand with Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and vote in his favour if there is a confidence vote tomorrow,” senior party leader Sushil Kumar Modi said.

The party has issued a whip to its MLAs to vote in support of Manjhi in the floor test, which he said was aimed at avenging the insult meted out by Nitish Kumar to a Mahadalit, the poorest among Dalits.

The day brought bad news for Manjhi as Patna High Court refused permission to four MLAs owing allegiance to him to cast their votes in floor test. It also dismissed a petition by minister Vinay Bihari to keep Speaker Chaudhary away from the trust vote.

With PTI inputs

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