A meeting of Janata Dal (U) Lok Sabha MPs and unsuccessful contestants on Wednesday here failed to endorse any proposal to unseat Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and replace him with party leader Nitish Kumar.
Majority of the JD(U) leaders were ‘not in favour’ of removing Manjhi, as it would send a wrong message to the people, especially Dalits. They, however, wanted that Kumar should lead the JD(U) in the Bihar assembly polls slated later this year.
JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav, Rajya Sabha MP and national spokesman K C Tyagi and senior leaders attended the meeting held at the residence of former chief minister Nitish Kumar. However, Manjhi, who had unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha poll from Gaya (SC) seat, was conspicuous by his absence.
Though Yadav described it as a “routine meeting” as part of the ongoing training programme ahead of the assembly polls, insiders said that a large number of people were opposed to the idea of removing Manjhi at this juncture.
“There is no truth in the perception that the meeting was held for removal of Manjhi. This is just a routine meeting,” Yadav said.
Informed sources said the Sharad-Tyagi duo were here to convince Manjhi to step down in favour of Nitish Kumar.
“The pro-changers do not want a confrontation leading to a showdown in the state assembly. They want the national leadership to convince Manjhi to vacate the chair and allow Kumar to takeover and lead the party in the crucial assembly elections”, a JD(U) leader close to Nitish Kumar said.
That the party stood divided over continuance of Manjhi was evident when senior party leader Ranjan Prasad Yadav was denied entry to the meeting venue by security personnel for well over 15 minutes. Ranjan is against removal of Manjhi and JD(U)’s move to merge with Lalu Prasad’s RJD.