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Manjhi meets Modi, rules out quitting; Nitish to parade MLAs

Patna/New Delhi, (IANS) The crisis in Bihar's ruling JD-U deepened further Sunday, as a defiant Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi asserted he will not resign, while the rival camp led by Nitish Kumar decided to parade legislators at Raj Bhavan Monday and stake claim to power.

Manjhi, who was hand-picked by then chief minister Nitish Kumar as his replacement last year after the Janata Dal-United's rout in the Lok Sabha polls, has refused to quit.

In New Delhi to attend the NITI Aayog meeting Sunday, Manjhi also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi but said no politics were discussed in the meeting which lasted 40 minutes.

Addressing a press conference afterwards, he said: "I did not discuss politics with him. Modiji has done some good work for Bihar and we thanked him for that." 

Manjhi said he will prove his majority in the assembly Feb 20, and step down only if he fails.

"On the floor, whoever gives us support we will take it. I will not resign from the chief minister's post," he said, adding: "They (JD-U) had this misunderstanding that they will make me do whatever they want me to do".

He termed Nitish Kumar "power hungry and said he showed his real face when he humiliated him, a Mahadalit.

In response, JD-U spokesperson Neeraj Kumar told IANS that Manjhi was speaking the language of the Bharatiya Janata Party by attacking Nitish Kumar, who picked him up for the top post.

"Manjhi has forgotten that he was nominated by Nitish Kumar," he said.

JD-U's Bihar unit president Vashsisht Narain Singh told IANS that his party would form a new government in the state under Nitish Kumar's leadership with the backing of the Congress and Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal.

"We will parade 130 MLAs, including those of the Congress and the RJD, before the governor on Monday," he said.

The JD-U has 115 legislators in the 243-member assembly, most of whom are reportedly with Nitish Kumar.

The party is backed by 24 legislators of the RJD, five of the Congress, one from the Communist Party of India and two independents, making it a total of 147 -- more than the 122 needed for simple majority.

Manjhi enjoys the support of over a dozen JD-U legislators. He is banking on the support of the BJP, which has openly come out in his favour. The BJP has 88 legislators and it supported by three independents.

JD-U president Sharad Yadav, in a letter in Manjhi, has asked the chief minister to resign.

Yadav said that as Manjhi no longer enjoyed the support of majority of party legislators and the legislature party has re-elected Nitish Kumar as its leader, he should resign.

Earlier, the JD-U legislators submitted letters of support for Nitish Kumar to Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi staking claim to form the government.

Abdul Bari Siddiqui of the RJD and Sadanand Singh of the Congress also submitted letters of support for Nitish Kumar.

"We have staked claim to form the next government," Sadanand Singh told the media. "There is a list of over 130 legislators out of the 243 in support of Nitish Kumar."

The governor should invite Nitish Kumar to form the government, he said, adding: "Any delay to invite Nitish Kumar will encourage horse-trading."

Tripathi is currently in Kolkata as he is also the West Bengal governor. He is likely to reach Patna late Sunday or Monday, officials said.

Meanwhile, JD-U leaders hit out at Manjhi, accusing him of playing into the hands of the BJP to harm the party ahead of the assembly elections to be held later this year.

"The BJP is behind whatever Manjhi is doing," JD-U national general secretary K.C. Tyagi said.

Vashsisht Narain Singh added: "The BJP is taking advantage of Manjhi's lust for power."


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