Mounting pressure on the Bihar Governor to call for a floor test immediately to end the state’s ongoing political crisis, Janata Dal (United) leader and former chief minister Nitish Kumar brought a coalition of 130 MLAs from various parties to the Capital on Tuesday to seek intervention of President Pranab Mukherjee.
The President’s House has given appointment to a JD(U)-led 12-member delegation for 7pm on Wednesday. Besides Nitish, the delegation will have JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, general secretary K C Tyagi, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and leader of Congress Legislative Party in Bihar Sadananda Singh. Remaining members of the delegation will be decided overnight.
The delegation will present a memorandum to the President demanding an end to the political limbo in Bihar with the claim that Nitish be given a chance to prove his majority in the Assembly since he has been elected as the new leader of the ruling coalition’s Legislative Party. The 130 MLAs, who would be paraded outside Rashtrapati Bhawan as the delegation goes to meet the President, has people from JD(U), Congress, CPI, RJD and one Independent.
The move to approach the President is being seen as an attempt to pressure Bihar Governor Keshari Nath Tripathy to call for a floor test which dissident JD(U) CM Jitan Ram Manjhi wants to delay till February 20, when the state’s Budget Session is slated to begin. The Nitish camp believes that any delay in the floor test would give Manjhi, being seen as tacitly encouraged by the BJP, to engage in “horse-trading”.
Manjhi, on his part, had met the Governor and requested him to expand his cabinet immediately. But sources said Tripathy had denied the request saying expansion could not be allowed at a time when the legality of the Manjhi government is in question. Tripathy also did not allow Manjhi’s request for a secret ballot in the floor test saying there was no Constitutional provision for it.
It is learnt that the Nitish camp has served a googly to the Governor by arguing that the floor test must be held before the state’s Budget Session, because by convention the Session starts with an address by the governor to the Assembly, and that address is drafted by the incumbent government.
“The Governor should not be seen reading out the address of a government which fails to prove its majority in the House immediately after the Address,” said a JD(U) source.
Before leaving for Delhi, Nitish said on Tuesday: “We have already told the Governor about the importance of time factor. We will parade MLAs before the President and ask for justice”.
Meanwhile, Manjhi remained defiant and held a cabinet meeting Tuesday. He gave a nod to 21 decisions, including reservation for SC/STs in government contracts and reservation for economically backward upper-caste people in government jobs. It is, however, not sure if the decisions of the truncated cabinet will see light of the day.
On Tuesday, Bihar BJP leaders Sushil Kumar Modi and Nand Kishore Yadav held a meeting with party functionaries to decide their next course of action. Sources said though BJP has been supporting Manjhi, it may not support him in the floor test until he has a backing of about 40 MLAs.