With the power struggle in the Janata Dal (United) bringing Bihar politics to crossroads, the big question remains: Will chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi scrape through the floor test when governor Keshari Nath Tripathi calls for a test of strength in Bihar assembly?
There are varying claims and counter-claims about MLAs on either side. JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar has paraded MLAs supporting him before President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi. But there are conflicting reports about the number of MLAs backing Nitish.
“We have the support of 130 MLAs from the JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI and independents to claim a majority,” said former parliamentary affairs minister Shrawan Kumar. But reports claim that Nitish brought only 90 MLAs with him to Delhi.
The Manjhi camp, on the other hand, claims they have enough support from the BJP to sail through the floor test, likely to be held between February 16-19. There is speculation that not all RJD MLAs support Nitish and some are in favour of Manjhi. The Manjhi camp was emboldened by the Patna high court order putting on hold the notification of the Bihar assembly recognising Nitish Kumar as leader of the JD(U).
“The absence of many party MLAs in Delhi proves a sizeable number of them and those from RJD and Congress are with Manjhi,” said pro-Manjhi minister Vinay Bihari. Many Manjhi supporters derive their confidence from the support extended to them by the BJP. It was also indicated that Manjhi could have managed the magic number from support within his own party.