11:22 pm - Tuesday November 3, 2015

Bihar Crisis: BJP Likely to Support Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi During Trust Vote, Say Sources

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PATNA: The BJP is expected to give its Bihar unit the go-ahead to support chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi in a trust vote that he will seek in the state assembly tomorrow, sources have said. A formal BJP decision is expected after a meeting at 6 pm today.
At a closed door party meeting yesterday, the BJP said, there was consensus among its Bihar legislators that it should support Mr Manjhi. That sentiment will be conveyed to the leadership in Delhi by Bhupendra Yadav, who is in charge of Bihar.

Legislator after legislator reportedly favoured supporting Mr Manjhi at the meeting because, they argued, he is a Mahadalit who has been “insulted” by his party leader Nitish Kumar. Mahadalits are one of the poorest and most underprivileged castes in Bihar.Mr Manjhi is being forced to prove his strength because his party, the Janata Dal United, wants Nitish Kumar back as chief minister. Mr Manjhi has refused to resign stating that he has the numbers to remain in the top post.

Nitish Kumar has alleged that Mr Manjhi’s rebellion has been scripted by the BJP. Nine months ago he had handpicked Mr Manjhi to take his place as chief minister when he stepped down after his party was routed by the BJP in the national elections.

The BJP’s top leadership in Delhi is said to have been averse to direct involvement in the JD(U) crisis as they do not want to hand Nitish Kumar the advantage of playing political victim months before the state votes for a new assembly.

Even with the BJP’s support Mr Manjhi will find it tough to touch the half-way mark at 117. He is said to have 12 JD(U) legislators on his side and the BJP, if it supports him, has 87. With three Independents, Mr Manjhi looks good to deliver 102 ‘ayes’ in his support.

The Patna High Court will today decide whether four legislators suspended last year by the JD(U) can also vote.

Nitish Kumar has the support of 128 MLAs.

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