Patna: Heading for a showdown with the JD(U) leadership, Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday termed the proposed meeting of the JD(U) legislature party on Saturday as "unauthorized" and has instead called a legislature party meeting in his capacity as leader of the House on February 20.
Manjhi has called a meeting of JD(U) legislature party at his official residence at 7pm on February 20, a statement from the chief minister's office said on Friday.
Manjhi has described the JD(U) legislature party meeting called by party president Sharad Yadav on February 7 as "unauthorized".
"The right to call legislature party meeting rests with leader of the legislature party (Chief Minister). The notice of the meeting called on February 7 is not an authorized one," Manjhi had said in a statement late on Thursday night.
JD(U) general secretary KC Tyagi described the legislature party meeting called by the party president as "valid".
According to JD(U) constitution, under Rule 21, the party president has the power to call a meeting of legislature party, Tyagi told reporters.
Meanwhile, BJP said it was keeping a "wait and watch" approach over the situation.
"We are keeping a watch over the situation and will take a decision at right time...all options are open for BJP," senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi told PTI in reply to a question if BJP would extend support to Manjhi in case he is sacked by his own party.
State parliamentary affairs minister Shrawan Kumar also refuted Manjhi's views on Saturday's legislature party meeting.
The JD(U) constitution gives special privilege to the party president to call a meeting of legislature party, Shrawan Kumar, who is also the JD(U) Chief Whip in the assembly, told PTI.
Asked about legislature party meeting called by Manjhi on February 20, Shrawan Kumar, a close confidante of Nitish Kumar, said, "The issue will be discussed in tomorrow's legislature party meeting."
HRD minister Brishen Patel has expressed support to Manjhi and said he would not attend the JD(U) Legislature Party meeting called by Sharad Yadav on Saturday.
Rural development minister Nitish Mishra has also expressed similar views.
PHED minister Mahachandra Prasad Singh and urban development minister Samrat Chaudhary had visited Manjhi's residence last night and expressed support to him.
Rebel JD(U) MLAs Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo and Ravindra Rai also met the Chief Minister last night and pledged support of a large number of MLAs.
JD(U) leader KC Tyagi, who is putting up in Patna along with Sharad Yadav, said the decision to give a "marching order" to Manjhi had "become imperative" in view of his repeated controversial remarks and actitivities for past few days despite being asked by top leaders to mend his ways.
He said the 2010 mandate in Bihar was in the name of Nitish Kumar and "Manjhi was only a temporary arrangement."
Tyagi said JD(U) enjoyed majority in assembly and could prove this on floor of the House.
RJD and Congress are supporting JD(U) ministry which takes the figure well ahead of magic number of 122 in the 243-member Bihar House. JD(U) has 115 members but some rebels might turn against it during floor test, he said.
Meanwhile, Bihar JD(U) president Basistha Narayan Singh has described the legislature party meeting called by Manjhi as "wrong."
"Picture will be clear by tomorrow...there is no relevance of legislature party meeting called on February 20," Basistha Narayan Singh told PTI.
Asked if disciplinary action could be initiated against Manjhi, ministers and legislators who were talking against Legislature Party meeting called by Sharad Yadav tomorrow, he said, "whosoever violates decision of the national president will be considered as breaking the discipline. Sharad ji is keeping an eye over the situation and will take appropriate action."
Amid hectic political parleys and meeting of leaders of both pro-Nitish and pro-Manjhi camp leaders, Manjhi left for Jamui on his scheduled programme listed for the day.
Meanwhile, a training programme of JD(U) dalit, mahadalit and Schedule Tribe, is listed for the day today at 7 Circular road residence of Nitish Kumar.
JD(U) President Sharad Yadav and other leaders are expected to be be present there.
The Congress party, which is supporting the Manjhi government from the outside, said it was keeping an eye over the situation.
"Its too early to comment. We are keeping an eye over the situation and will react only after JD(U) Legislature Party meeting tomorrow evening," Bihar Congress President Ashok Choudhary told PTI.
RJD has described the developments in JD(U) as "unfortunate."
State RJD spokesman Mundrika Singh Yadav said party President Lalu Prasad has already made it clear that RJD was supporting a party (JD-U) in Bihar and not an individual.
Congress has also expressed its view that secular forces should go under the leadership of Nitish Kumar in Bihar polls later this year to fight against the BJP....