Patna: Beleaguered Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi today met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and said Nitish Kumar's election as the new JD(U)LP leader was "unconstitutional" and exuded confidence that he would prove his majority on the floor of the House.
Manjhi met the Governor minutes after Kumar left Raj Bhavan after staking claim to form the government. "I told the Governor that I can prove majority on the floor of the House whenever he asks me," Manjhi told reporters emerging from Raj Bhavan after a nearly 45-minute-long meeting.
"I requested him that the floor test be held by secret ballot and one leader from each of the two (rival) groups of JD(U) be present during counting of votes," Manjhi, who was accompanied by ministers Bhim Singh, Vinay Bihari, Nitish Mishra and Samrat Chaudhary, said.
Manjhi, who wore a smile on his face during the interaction with the media, said he had also told the governor that Kumar's election as the new JD(U)LP leader was "unconstitutional" as the meeting in which he was elected was "unauthorised" for it was called by the party president instead of the Leader of the House.
"Besides, a person who is not a member of the House has been chosen as leader of the legislature party. Nitish Kumar is not a member of the Assembly," Manjhi said. "As to Nitish Kumar's claim that he can prove majority in 24 hours or 48 hours, I told him (Governor) it all depends on your wisdom," Manjhi said.
On Kumar's request that decision on government be taken before February 20 the day the Budget Session of Bihar Assembly begins, Manjhi said he told Governor "What's the hurry ? ... Where are we running away ?" "Whenever you direct us for floor test be it February 19, 20 or 23 we will prove our majority on the floor of the Assembly," Manjhi said he told the governor.
Asked about the number of MLAs supporting him, Manjhi said, "There are many but they do not want to come out in the open before the media because those people (Nitish Kumar group) have many 'bahubalis' (strong armed men)." He quoted a colloquial phrase that "whenever somebody asks a barber how many hair are on his head, the barber says he will say when the person comes before him."
Manjhi assertions came a day after he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi and many BJP leaders which indicate that the party may support him in the trust vote.