Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday put up a ring of resistance before a trust vote, moving to get the reportedly pro-Nitish Kumar speaker out of the way and ridiculing his mentor-turned-foe for trying to use him as a rubber stamp.
He prepared the pitch for the February 20 trust vote by moving a no-confidence motion against speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary. Manjhi supporters said the speaker was partial towards the Nitish camp and, so, the governor’s intervention was needed.
Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, an NDA appointee, played music to Manjhi’s ears when he called Janata Dal (United) leader Kumar “desperate for power and political gains”.
Manjhi accused Kumar of horse-trading and threatening party MLAs to vote for him.
“The JD(U) MLAs were herded to Delhi and kept in hotels spending huge amounts of money. His men visit houses of several MLAs issuing threats. I am a fakir. I have no money for horse-trading,” the chief minister said.
“If I lose, as I said before, I will go with a smile on my face. But they cannot remove me at their will. It will have to be within the House and I have nothing to lose.”
He said the governor would be requested to conduct “secret voting” during the floor test in view of threats issued to MLAs.
The move is viewed as a ploy to outmanoeuvre Kumar, who had earlier said he made a mistake by handpicking Manjhi as his successor when he quit the post after the JD(U)’s Lok Sabha poll debacle in Bihar.
Manjhi’s riposte on Friday was “it’s not a galti (mistake) but mahagalti (blunder)” to put him in the hot seat and try to use him as a rubber stamp. “I have spent 34 year in politics … he committed a big mistake in assuming that I will act like his voiceless puppet and he will continue to control me through remote,” he said.
Manjhi said a “system of commission” prevailed in the regime that he succeeded and it was run by bichouliyas, or middlemen, before he put the lid on it.