Nitish Kumar Wants Test of Strength, or Else…A Warning.

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Patna:  Nitish Kumar says that unless he is allowed on Tuesday to prove that he has the right to govern Bihar, he will fly to Delhi to meet with President Pranab Mukherjee. He has already sought  time to meet the President. His party, the Janata Dal United or JD-U, has booked 140 flight tickets from Patna to the capital. They will make the journey if Mr Kumar is not permitted by Governor Kesri Nath Tripathi to prove his majority in the state legislature.

“We asked him to take a decision immediately. We are ready to prove majority on the floor of the assembly as soon as he wants,” said Mr Kumar.

Mr Kumar’s extravagant  political maneuvering is necessitated by Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was picked eight months ago as his replacement and was expelled today from the JDU. Mr Manjhi, 70, took over as Chief Minister after Mr Kumar took responsibility for their party’s plunging descent in the national election.

Mr Manjhi’s consistency in controversy led to the party voting on Saturday that he should be removed as Chief Minister; the next election in Bihar is due in months. Mr Manjhi says  the party’s moves are “illegal” and wants the Governor to order a trust vote for him.  He also wants a secret ballot, so that his supporters can back him without fear of reprisal from others in the JDU.

The JDU has 111 law-makers.  It needs another 6 to remain in power.  The gap is covered by Lalu Prasad and his regional party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD, Congress and Communist Party of India  which is backing Mr Kumar.

Mr Manjhi has about a dozen JDU legislators on his side.  But he has during his term exhibited a proximity to the BJP.  Yesterday, he met with  the Prime Minister in Delhi after a session of the NITI Ayog, the newly-created policy commission that includes heads of all states.  The meeting has amplified reports that Mr Manjhi is looking to switch parties.

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