Jitan Ram Manjhi, who had resigned as Bihar Chief minister just hours before a crucial trust vote last month, today absented himself from the inaugural sitting of the joint session of Bihar Legislature after which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will take the trust vote.
Talking about his decision, Manjhi said he was waiting for a reply from the Assembly secretariat as to how a whip was mandatory on an unattached member.
"I took advise from constitutional expert Subhas Kashyap, who told me that whip is not applicable on an unattached member," Manjhi told PTI.
"Accordingly, I have written to Secretary of the Legislative Assembly to explain how whip is mandatory on an unattached member," he said.
A whip has been issued to all 110 JD(U) MLAs, including Manjhi, which mandates that they vote in favour of the Kumar government, failing which they could be disqualified, said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shrawan Kumar, who is also the JD(U) Chief Whip.
While Manjhi stays away from House proceedings, the legislators siding with him are attending the sitting. Former Bihar ministers Narendra Singh, Brishen Patel, Nitish Mishra, Samrat Chaudhary and rebel MLA Rajib Ranjan were seen sitting in the treasury benches.
As per the seating arrangements in the Assembly, while Kumar has been alloted seat No.1, marked for the chief minister, Manjhi has been alloted seat No.116 in the treasury benches.
Manjhi had revolted against Kumar, who had stepped down as chief minister and placed the Mahadalit leader in his stead, after JD(U)'s debacle in the Lok Sabha elections last year.
Manjhi had refused to attend the February 7 meeting called by party president Sharad Yadav to elect Kumar as the leader of the JD(U) legislature party. That meeting had seen Manjhi being expelled as the chief minister and declared an 'unattached' JD(U) member in the Assembly.
Manjhi had quit the chief minister's chair just before the floor test on February 20 and floated his Hindustani Avam Morcha on February 28.