Embattled chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s supporters have come out with what they believe is a “failsafe” strategy to win a floor test in the Bihar assembly that is necessary if he has to remain in office.
The Manjhi camp is planning to appoint 22 new ministers and 28 parliamentary secretaries from among the sitting MLAs to marshal the support of at least 50 legislators.
If it manages to do so, it can count upon the backing of 87 BJP MLAs to scale the magic majority mark of 117 in the 243-member Bihar assembly, the effective strength of which is 233 at present. Ten seats are vacant.
The strategy was revealed Sunday by culture minister Vinay Bihari, a Manjhi supporter, who met JD (U) MLA Bima Bharti to seek her support for Manjhi during a floor test. The Manjhi camp was in contact with other JD (U) MLAs, as well.
Bharti had appended her signature to Nitish’s election at a JD (U) meeting Saturday and had resigned as backward welfare minister Saturday night.
“Many among these new appointees will be JD (U) MLAs whose signatures had been obtained against their wishes to declare Nitish Kumar JD (U) legislature party leader,” Bihari said.
But Patna high court senior advocate Basant Chaudhary, an expert on the Constitution, said the strategy might not work now that ex-CM Nitish Kumar had been elected leader of the JD (U) legislature party in place of Manjhi and the decision officially communicated to Raj Bhawan Sunday.
He said it was even doubtful if Manjhi would get the first chance to prove his majority on the floor of the house.
“Manjhi will probably be asked to furnish signatures of at least 117 MLAs before the governor invites him first to undergo a floor test,” Chaudhary said.
However, the Manjhi camp was counting on ‘first call’ from the governor to prove his majority, in order to severely dent the support figures claimed by the JD (U) leadership.
The BJP has made it clear it would back Manjhi only if he was able to furnish signatures of support from more than 30 non-BJP MLAs.