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Bihar: Nitish camp wins over Manjhi minister, JD(U) truce likely

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh meets former CM, indicating that the balance of power has now shifted in favour in the party.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2015 23:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

The Nitish Kumar camp in Bihar on Saturday managed to win over one of the key ministers from CM Jitan Ram Manjhi's side, thus significantly improving chances of truce between the warring camps in the Janata Dal (United).

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh met Nitish this morning, indicating that the balance of power has now shifted in favour in the party, and agreed to act as a peace messenger.

Singh had till Friday given indications that he would back Manjhi in his fight against the party's move to bring back Nitsh Kumar as chief minister.

The agriculture minister's peace move came just a few hours ahead of the cabinet meeting in which Manjhi was expected to declare the dissolution of the state cabinet.

There were hectic parleys through the night at the end of which the Nitish camp claimed it had signatures of 102 of the 111 Janata Dal ( U) legislators.

The Manjhi camp had assessed that it needed the support of at least 31 MLAs to stay in power with the support of 87 BJP legislators, 18 JD-U dissidents, and a few RJD MLAs.

But then the Manjhi camp realised it did not have enough numbers to draw BJP support, forcing both sides to backtrack from their aggressive stands.

Earlier, daggers had been drawn with Manjhi vowing to fight till the last breath and claiming adequate support, challenged the JD-U top brass to a fight to the finish.

He said, Nitish Kumar had acted like the Bhishma, who saw Draupadi being disrobed and failed to react thus paving for the Mahabharata within the JD-U.

Manjhi had also refused to attend Saturday's meeting convened by party national president Sharad Yadav, saying it was unconstitutional and that only he as the legislature party leader could convene it.

He had also convened a rival meeting of JD (U) MLAs on February 20 to coincide with the Bihar budget session.

If the crisis is defused, the JDLP meeting slated at 4pm may end up discussing strategies for next assembly elections, rather than the crisis. .

Bihar witnessed massive pro- Manjhi protests in districts like Muzaffarpur, Gaya and Jehanabad, while in Sheikhpura, a part of Munger constituency, which Lallan Singh represents, pro-Nitish groups burnt effigies of Manjhi.

There were also violent protests in Patna by pro- Dalit, pro-Manjhi groups following which the chief minister issued an appeal to all to maintain calm.

First Published: Feb 07, 2015 12:46 IST