Upbeat after being asked to prove his majority on the floor of the state assembly Feb 20, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s loyalists were confident of their victory with the BJP’s support.
“We are 100 percent sure that Manjhi would prove his majority with BJP’s support,” state minister Bhim Singh, one of the leading vocal supporters of Manjhi, told the media here.
According to Brajesh Malhotra, secretary to Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi, the floor test would be taken up through either lobby division or secret ballot, immediately after the governor’s address to the joint sitting of the state legislature on the opening day of the budget session.
The governor’s decision came Wednesday night after a set back to former chief minister and Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar as the Patna High Court stayed his recognition as legislature party head replacing Manjhi.
This decision has given strength to Manjhi’s loyalists JD-U legislators.
“We are hopeful, sure and certain that BJP would support a Mahadalit chief minister Manjhi,” Rajiv Ranjan, a JD-U legislator of Manjhi’s camp, told media here.
Ranjan, who was appointed chief whip of the party by Manjhi, said that more than five dozen party legislators of Nitish Kumar’s camp are in touch with them to support Manjhi.
Another minister and a supporter of Manjhi, Vinay Bihari, said he was confident of Bharatiya Janata Party’s support and boasted that several JD-U legislators were in touch with them.
Senior BJP leaders, including Leader of Opposition Nand Kishore Yadav, former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Usha Vidhyarti have made it clear that party would support Manjhi in the assembly.
State BJP president Mangal Pandey said the party wants Manjhi back.
Nitish Kumar along with 130 legislators of his JD-U, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress and the Communist Party of India, met President Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi Wednesday night to show his strength.
Battle lines were clearly drawn in Bihar as Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, expelled
from the ruling JD-U Monday and sought to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly even as his predecessor Nitish Kumar staked claim to form the government and accused Manjhi of “horse-trading”.
Manjhi was 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.
The BJP has 88 legislators and is supported by three Independents.