Nitish claims Bihar CM Manjhi is in league with BJP

JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar during a press conference in Patna

JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar during a press conference in Patna

Predicting Delhi-like results for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections and taking his fight to the national Capital, Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said that the saffron party was hand-in-glove with Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi in engineering horse trading in the state. 

The former chief minister said that all the legislators of his party and allies were being offered ministerial berths along with BJP tickets for the state polls to lure them to the Manjhi camp. 

He said: “The BJP is hand in glove (with the Manjhi camp) in the horse trading bid in the state. How come its tickets for the Assembly election are being offered along with ministerial berths if it is not involved in trying to draw away party members?” 

Expressing concern over the delay in Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi arriving at a decision, Nitish said that he was taking all his supporters to Delhi to parade them before President Pranab Mukhejee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. 

He said: “We have so far received no communication from the Raj Bhawan to form the government even though the JD-U had staked claim to replace its legislature party leader and informed the Governor about it three days ago.” 

Nitish said that he had paraded the 130 legislators at the Raj Bhawan on Monday. 

He said: “But, the matter has been kept pending. This is encouraging horse trading. People are watching how environment for purchase of legislators is being created in the state.” 

Brushing aside Manjhi’s demand for secret ballot during the trust vote, Nitish said that there are established rules and norms for legislative business. 

“It does not run on anybody’s whims,” he said. 

Alleging that the BJP is behind all the recent developments in his party, Nitish said that the JD-U would seek the status of main Opposition party in the Assembly if Manjhi is invited for floor test. 

Asserting that the Delhi poll results had given a big message to the rest of the country, Nitish said that Delhiites had rejected the BJP overwhelmingly because Narendra Modi had failed to fulfil its promise in the past nine months. 

He said: “This is a big referendum of the people against BJP’s arrogance in the national Capital. The support in favour of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is not a mere swing. It is as though the pendulum has swung from one side to another. Never before in the history of the country had the mood of people changed in such a short span of time. The results have proved that big boasts do not always work.” 

The JD-U leader said that people of Bihar living in Delhi had supported AAP and the BJP will get a similar treatment. Nitish had on Monday staked claim to form the government after Manjhi  refused to resign and dubbed the meeting convened by party president Sharad Yadav to replace him as “unconstitutional”. 

He claimed that he would prove his majority on the floor of the House whenever the governor asks him to.

Unfazed Manjhi plays the quota card

By Giridhar Jha in Patna 

Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram played the reservation card on Tuesday to consolidate his position as a Mahadalit leader in the state. 

The Cabinet, which met for the first time after 20 ministers belonging to the Nitish group resigned, passed a proposal of the road construction department which enables Scheduled Caste-Scheduled Tribe contractors to get priority in all government contracts worth up to Rs 70 lakh if their bid amount matches that of others. 

This will be implemented as per the provisions for group III and group IV projects under the Bihar Contractors’ Rules, 2007. The decision is in keeping with Manjhi’s agenda to implement quota in awarding road construction department contracts to unemployed youths from poor and Dalit families to prevent them from joining the Naxal movement. 

Sources said that he was trying to implement the SC-ST quota for quite some time, but the then road construction department minister Lalan Singh had objected to his move that led to friction between the two. 

Last week, Manjhi sacked Lalan after he questioned the chief minister’s authority to transfer IAS officers too frequently. The Cabinet also approved setting up of a three-member experts’ panel to give reservation to the economically poor people from upper castes. 

It also relaxed compulsory attendance norm from 75 per cent to 60 per cent for general students and 55 per cent for SC-ST students in government schools to enable them to get scholarship and other benefits.