Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi Wednesday skipped a meeting of JD(U) members — who had contested the Lok Sabha elections — at the residence of his predecessor Nitish Kumar. Manjhi, who had unsuccessfully contested Gaya parliamentary seat, backed out of the meeting at the last moment to “register his displeasure” with top party leadership over “ambiguity on his continuance as CM”, said sources.
The meeting was called to deliberate the party’s February 15 rally of booth-level workers in the state capital.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, who attended the meeting, sought to downplay the speculation on Manjhi’s replacement. “Manjhi was not the subject of discussion. We gathered here to discuss preparations of our booth-level workers’ meeting at Patna Gandhi Maidan,” he said.
Party spokesperson K C Tyagi said Kumar was the “choice of voters and JD(U) legislators would decide if Manjhi should continue as CM or not”. The Chief Minister met Yadav separately late in the evening.
Meanwhile, a local court Wednesday ordered the Patna police to lodge a complaint against Yadav for his alleged “offensive remarks against Manjhi’s competence” during a meeting in UP. The court was moved by an LJP Dalit leader.
The sources said though party workers have been urging Kumar to return as CM, he did not touch the subject during the meeting. “Nitishji discussed preparation for the Gandhi Maidan rally… This will give an answer to Manjhi and also to the RJD and the BJP about his organisational strength,” said a leader present at the meeting.
Manjhi kept himself busy with day’s assignments. When asked if there was any threat to his chair, he shot back: “Has Nitishji told journalists as much? As for me, he has not asked me to resign. I can answer questions on leaving the chair only if Nitishji asks me to quit.”
Bihar cabinet minister Brishen Patel said: “Manjhi is here to stay. He is not going and somebody is not coming.”
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