On a day when former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi was on a fast in protest against Nitish Kumar regime’s decision to annul the ‘pro-people’ decisions of his erstwhile ministry, the JD(U) leadership was busy tightening the screws on him.
Putting the squeeze on the leader who had defied the party leadership by refusing to make way for Nitish as CM, the JD(U) leadership made it clear on Monday that Manjhi and JD(U) MLAs supporting him had been left with no option but to ‘fall in line’.
“I have issued a whip asking all JD (U) MLAs to express confidence in the Nitish regime during the floor test in the state assembly on March 11. There is no other option for any of the 110 party MLAs”, said JD(U) legislature party chief whip Shravan Kumar.
He said any JD(U) MLA, including Manjhi, would be declared disqualified “within three hours” of the conclusion of the March 11 floor test, if he or she defied the whip by either voting against the motion of confidence or abstaining.
The warning was directed at 12 (out of 110) sitting JD (U) MLAs who had sided with the then CM Manjhi in his standoff with the party leadership in the run up to the earlier floor test on February 20.
The JD(U) chief whip also made it clear that the Manjhi camp MLAs would not be allowed to sit in the house as a separate group. “For the record, they are all JD(U) MLAs and all the 110 party MLAs in the house will sit as one block”, he declared.
A former minister close to Manjhi said given the embarrassment such a sitting arrangement would cause to Manjhi, he might consider the possibility of skipping the vote of confidence.
“This, in fact, goes for all the Manjhi camp MLAs. They may not go to the House during the confidence vote. You can’t disqualify a member for being absent. There can by any number of reasons for his/her absence,” said a Manjhi supporting MLA.