Patna: Janata Dal United MLAs on Saturday unanimously elected former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar as leader of the Legislative party. Out of 111 JDU MLAs 97 were present at the legislative party meeting in Patna on Saturday and their decision paves the way for Nitish Kumar to take over as Bihar Chief Minister from Jitan Ram Manjhi.
Earlier in the day, Manjhi met Nitish Kumar at the latter's residence in Patna on Saturday amidst reports of an effort to patch-up ties. After the meeting Manjhi decided to relinquish the post of the CM but he later took a U-turn and refused to step down putting up a tough resistance.
Manjhi then called a Cabinet meeting and decided to recommend dissolution of Bihar Assembly to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathy but later withheld it. Two thirds of the ministers, all of them Nitish supporters, opposed the dissolution proposal.
Out of 111 JDU MLAs, 104 also gave their written support in favour of Nitish revealing that Manjhi enjoyed very little support in the party. JDU President Sharad Yadav was also present at the meeting between Manjhi and Nitish.
Manjhi was named as Bihar CM on May 17, 2014 after Nitish resigned due to the party's poor show in the Lok Sabha elections where it could win only two of the 40 seats in the state.
But soon after taking over from Nitish, Manjhi started to chart his own course unlike the speculation that he would be just a puppet of his predecessor. Several statements of Manjhi and his praise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were not taken kindly by the JDU leadership.
Manjhi also replaced several top bureaucrats who were close to Nitish with officers from the Dalit community in his bid to consolidate his grip which, too, led to differences between them.
"Nitish Kumar had made Manjhi Chief Minister for the full term. He has made many irresponsible statements and has been growing close to the BJP. Nitish Kumar tried to discuss with him many times but the script has been prepared in Delhi. Amit Shah and Narendra Modi have scripted this. Calling a parallel meeting going against the party President is indiscipline, there could be a possible action against him. We will choose new leader," said JDU spokesperson KC Tyagi.
According to sources, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress have given their letters of support to Nitish Kumar.
The Bihar Assembly has a strength of 243 with five vacancies. The ruling camp is 145-MLA strong with JDU (115), RJD (24), Congress (5) and Communist Party of India (1). The opposition camp of 93 MLAs is led by the BJP (88) and Independents (5).