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Jitan Ram Manjhi again calls cabinet meeting

Patna, (IANS) Unfazed by the uncertainty over his continuance, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi called a cabinet meeting Tuesday and might recommend dissolution of the state assembly, an official said.

"Manjhi has called a meeting of his cabinet at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Though the agenda is not known, he may take some big decisions, including recommending dissolution of the state assembly," an official in the chief minister office here said.

The development came a day after Manjhi insisted that he remained chief minister till he fails to prove his majority in the state assembly.

A Janata Dal-United leader close to Manjhi, however, said he "may or may not recommend dissolution of the state assembly, but by holding a cabinet meeting, he wanted to send a strong massage that he is still a chief minister".

In the last cabinet meeting Feb 7 after senior Bihar minister Narendra Singh had proposed dissolution of the assembly, 21 of the 28 ministers had walked out.

These ministers were considered close to former chief minister Nitish Kumar.

The battle lines have clearly been drawn as Manjhi, expelled from the ruling JD-U Monday, sought to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly and his predecessor, Nitish Kumar, staking claim to form the government, accused Manjhi of "horse-trading".

Things came to a boil Monday when Nitish Kumar met Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi and formally staked claim to form the government.

He, along with 130 legislators of his JD-U, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress and the Communist Party of India marched to Raj Bhavan.

Manjhi, hand-picked by then chief minister Nitish Kumar as his replacement when he quit last year after the JD-U's rout in the Lok Sabha polls, also met the governor and sought to prove his majority in the assembly but by "secret ballot".

In the 243-member assembly, the JD-U has 115 legislators - most of whom are reportedly with Nitish Kumar. It is backed by 24 legislators of the RJD, five of the Congress, two Independents and one from the CPI.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 88 legislators and is supported by three Independents.


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