Patna: Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was hand-picked by Nitish Kumar, had earlier put his foot down and refused to resign under pressure from the Nitish camp.
Following this, the JD(U) Legislature Party had developed deep and widening cracks, even leading to fist fights between the pro and anti-Manjhi groups.
In the suspense-filled meeting, a majority of the MLAs “elected” Mr Kumar as the new leader of JD(U) Legislature Party.
The decision to oust Mr Manjhi was taken on Saturday in the party meeting called by JD(U) president Sharad Yadav. Some 97 of 111 MLAs and 37 of 41 Party MLCs attended the meeting.
But the pro-Nitish gro-up claimed they had the support of 100 MLAs, indicating that MLAs in favour of Mr Nitish Kumar numbered 130 and that this was a huge number, in order save the government.
With this kind of support, Nitish Kumar taking over the reins is a foregone conclusion. He would be replacing Mr Manjhi at a time when the state is readying for Assembly elections in November.
An upbeat JD(U) claimed that apart from 100 MLAs from their own party, 24 RJD MLAs, five Congress MLAs and one CPI MLA were in favour of Mr Kumar.
Mr Nitish Kumar said after the meeting that the party was losing ground in Bihar under Mr Manjhi.
Earlier, Mr Kumar had announced that “good governance” was his poll agenda. “We acted because there were regular complaints not only from our leaders, who work for the people, but also from the people, that governance had totally collapsed. The party also felt that Mr Manjhi was helping, directly or indirectly, the BJP. Its game plan has been exposed,” Mr Kumar said.
The ball is back in the court of the JD(U) to stake claim to form government. Mr Manjhi, after the defeat, left for New Delhi along with his aide, Narendra Singh. Before leaving he said that all options for compromise were still open.