Manjhi faces acid test in trust vote

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 19, 2015 Published on February 19, 2015

Testing times Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi at the Dalit Apman Ke Khilaph Garib Swabhiman Sammelan event in Patna on Thursday RANJEET KUMAR

Patna High Court disallows four dissident JD(U) MLAs from today’s voting

The stage is set for the February 20 confidence vote in the Bihar Assembly, with the BJP openly siding with beleaguered Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who offered “cabinet berths” in exchange for support on the floor of the House.

The 243-member Assembly has shrunk to 233 on account of 10 expulsions. On Thursday, the Patna High Court disallowed four expelled JD(U) MLAs from casting their votes.

This is a setback for Manjhi, to whom every vote matters.

In the 233-member House, the BJP has 87 members and Manjhi is expecting the support of 11 MLAs from the ruling alliance that includes the JD(U), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and the CPI.

The situation is not favourable to Manjhi because unless he is able to garner 117 MLAs, he will not be able to win the trust vote.

The JD(U) claims the support of 130 MLAs, well over the majority mark.

Horse-trading charges

Charges of horse-trading flew thick and fast. Bihar Janata Dal (United) leader Vashishtha Narain Singh paraded party MLA from Sheohar, Sharifuddin, who alleged that RJD MP from Madhepura Pappu Yadav had telephoned him, offering money and a minister’s post if he supports Manjhi.

“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,” Sharifuddin told reporters.

Pappu Yadav has been opposing his party’s support to Nitish Kumar, who has been elected leader of the JD(U) legislature party and Chief Minister-designate against Manjhi, who was earlier expelled from the party for hobnobbing with the BJP.

BJP national spokesperson and former MP from Bhagalpur Shahnawaz Hussain took the opportunity to rubbish the JD(U)’s allegations that the BJP is “buying” MLAs.

“As you can see, the JDU) has no control over how its alliance partners behave. Pappu Yadav is an RJD MP. The RJD is an alliance partner of the JD(U). If he is bribing MLAs to vote against Nitish Kumar, how is the BJP responsible?” he asked.

According to Hussain, the BJP has taken a “principled” stand to back Manjhi because he is being “persecuted” by Nitish.

“The BJP has always been on the side of the weak and the oppressed. Jitan Ram Manjhi belongs to an oppressed section of the society and he is being harassed by his party.

“That is why all our legislators in Bihar unanimously decided to back him in the legislature party meeting yesterday,” he added. A formal announcement to this effect was made later in the day.

Main opposition party

The BJP is also opposing Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary’s decision to accord main opposition party status to JD(U). “The Speaker’s office has become JD(U)’s office. Has anyone ever witnessed such ridiculous spectacle — the same party occupies the treasury benches as well as the opposition slot in the Assembly,” said Hussain. BJP MLAs staged a protest outside Choudary’s office.

Meanwhile, Manjhi did his bit to elicit support. Speaking at Garib Swabhiman Sammelan in Patna, the Chief Minister said:

“You all should request your MLAs that they should support me. If they are against me because they want to be ministers, tell them I too have many vacant posts. I will also make them ministers,” he said.

Published on February 19, 2015
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