5:32 am - Wednesday May 22, 2024

Jitan Ram Manjhi resigns as Bihar CM, alleges he and his MLAs got death threats ahead of trust vote

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Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi resigned on Friday ahead of a crucial trust vote in the assembly in which he was expected to face a certain defeat.

Manjhi met governor Keshari Nath Tripathi  an hour before the start of assembly proceedings and tendered his resignation.

Later addressing a media conference, Manjhi said he resigned because there were death threats and bribe offers to the MLAs who were with him , and the Speaker did not allow a  secret ballot in the interests of their security.

“As many as 140 MLAs would have voted for me if there was a secret ballot,” Manjhi said.

The resignation came as anti-climax to the storm within the Janata Dal (U) over the last one month, which saw Manjhi take on his one-time mentor and former chief minister Nitish Kumar with support from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The official JD (U) camp started celebrations as soon as the news broke. “We have been vindicated. The BJP’s game plan to take over  Bihar has failed,” Nitish Kumar said.

JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi said that since the party has the majority in Bihar, the “governor will call Nitish Kumar by today evening or latest by tomorrow to prove his majority.”

The crisis in the state started after Manjhi was expelled from his party, the JD(U), after refusing to step down from the chief minister’s post to make way for Nitish Kumar and became an unattached member of the assembly.

But it became a regular war since February 7, when the JD(U) legislature party re-elected Kumar as its leader and showed Manjhi the door.

Kumar said that Manjhi, whom he nominated on May 20, had derailed Bihar’s growth and, more importantly, consorted with the BJP to put the JD(U) in real danger in the 2015 assembly polls.

Kumar asked governor Keshari Nath Tripathy on February 9 to swear him in within 48 hours and demonstrated the support of 130 MLAs – his own 97, plus RJD’s 24, Congress 5, CPI one and independent one —in Delhi. He even expelled Manjhi and suspended rebel ministers.

But the ever submissive and grateful Manjhi turned out to be the real rebel, refusing to quit unless defeated in a floor test.

He claimed  to have mustered the support of at least 43 JD(U) MLAs — 12 more than the 31 required — to add to the 87 BJP legislators.

But then as it eventually turned out, he was well short of the halfway mark of 117, forcing him to put in his papers.

Suspense over governor’s address

There was suspense if the governor would deliver his speech to the joint session listed at 11:30am.

“You will come to know about it later,” PRO Raj Bhawan S K Pathak said.

Earlier, JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI MLAs and one independent legislator supporting Nitish had decided to boycott the Governor’s speech in the joint session of Bihar legislature.

The decision to boycott the Governor’s speech was to register protest at his action of not hearing Nitish Kumar’s plea to ask Manjhi to prove his majority in 48 hours and instead giving him 14 days time which “facilitated horse trading,” JD(U) Chief whip Shrawan Kumar said.

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