Senior Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar left for Delhi with a team of 136 MLAs, MPs and MLCs late Tuesday to parade his majority in front of President Pranab Mukherjee, a day after the former chief minister staked claim to form the government in Bihar.
The party blocked over 140 seats in two different flights to ferry its flock of around 90 legislators of the JD(U), 23 of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, five of the Congress and one independent.
The development came a day after a defiant CM Jitan Ram Manjhi said he was ready for a floor test, following his expulsion from the JD(U).With 10 seats lying vacant, the effective strength of the Bihar assembly is 233 and 117 is the majority mark. Bihar governor Keshari Nath Tripathi is yet to decide on a possible confidence vote in the assembly.
Manjhi, however, appeared unfazed and called a cabinet meeting, announcing he would look after 18 important departments, including home and finance, on his own. The Dalit leader also passed a raft of populist measures, including a proposal that sanctioned preference for SC/ST contractors in state works up to Rs 70 lakh if their bid was equal to the offer made by general category contractors. This issue had been the last straw in Manjhi’s strained relationship with the JD(U).
The chief minister also changed the policy of providing uniforms to children of weaker sections even if they did not have a mandatory 75% attendance. While general category students would need 60% attendance to get uniforms, children of weaker sections would get them even with 55%.