With the showdown between Jitan Ram Manjhi and his mentor-turned-foe Nitish Kumar inching towards an exciting finish, BJP today lent its support to the chief minister even as both houses of Bihar legislature today recognised JD(U) as their principal Opposition party.
The decision to support embattled Manjhi at the floor of the house tomorrow was taken at a meeting of the BJP LP, which was held for the second consecutive day today.
“BJP will stand with Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and vote in his favour if there is a confidence vote tomorrow,” senior party leader Sushil Kumar Modi said.
The party has issued a whip to its MLAs to vote in support of Manjhi in the floor test, which he said was aimed at avenging the insult meted out by Nitish Kumar to a Mahadalit, the poorest among Dalits.
Acting Bihar Governor Keshrai Nath Tripathi will arrive here from Kolkata late this evening, highly-placed sources in Raj Bhawan said.
JD(U) National President Sharad Yadav has already reached Patna, but RJD President Lalu Prasad would not be here as he would be busy in ‘tilak’ function of his youngest daughter with the grandson of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav at Safai, his close aide and MLC Bhola Yadav said.
Earlier in the day, Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary accepted the plea of JD(U) and granted it permission to sit in the Opposition gallery tomorrow. He also granted Vijay Chaudhary the status of the Leader of Opposition in place of BJP’s Nand Kishore Yadav.
BJP reacted angrily to this and sat on dharna in front of the assembly entrance.
“Assembly secretariat has to act according to numerical strength and since JD(U) had sought the status of the main Opposition, we had no reason to deny them this considering their numbers,” the speaker told PTI.
Manjhi after his expulsion from JD(U) by Sharad Yadav has been declared as unattached member in the assembly.
Barely a few hours later, JD(U) was recognised as principal Opposition party in the legislative council as well. Chairperson Awdesh Narayan Singh recognised Nitish Kumar as leader of Opposition in the council in place of Sushil Kumar Modi.
The day brought bad news for Manjhi as Patna High Court refused permission to four MLAs owing allegiance to him to cast their votes in floor test. It also dismissed a petition by minister Vinay Bihari to keep Speaker Chaudhary away from the trust vote.
Both Kumar and Manjhi organised dinner for their supporting MLAs tonight.