Dogged by controversies ever since Manjhi took over from Nitish after the Lok Sabha debacle, the party decided to set its house in order for the assembly elections later this year by bringing him back at the helm. He said the decision to give "marching orders" to Manjhi has "become imperative" in view of his repeated controversial remarks and activities for the past few days despite being asked by top leaders to mend his ways. He said the 2010 mandate in Bihar was in the name of Nitish Kumar and "Manjhi was only a temporary arrangement". For Saturday's meeting called by party President Sharad Yadav, notices were on Friday sent to 111 party MLAs and 41 members of Legislative Council including Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Nitish Kumar.
Knives were out between the two factions with Manjhi, who is a Mahadalit, terming Saturday's meeting as "unauthorised" and calling a Legislature Party meeting in his capacity as Leader of the House on February 20. Instead of attending tomorrow's meeting, a defiant Chief Minister is planning to go to Delhi to attend a meeting of the NITI Aayog convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.
There were signs that Manjhi, who was brought in as a stop-gap arrangement after Nitish quit in the wake of JD(U)'s Lok Sabha debacle, will be shown the door with JD(U) General Secretary K C Tyagi indicating as much.
"After 4 PM tomorrow, Manjhi will not remain the leader of Janata Dal (United) Legislature Party," Tyagi said.
He said the move to bring back Nitish Kumar has the backing of RJD chief Lalu Paraad, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and JD(U) chief Shard Yadav. When asked about Manjhi's plan to attend the Delhi meeting, Tyagi wondered in what capacity he will do so "when he will not be the chief minister".
JD(U) General Secretary K C Tyagi told reporters that Manjhi could be removed from the party if he violates discipline and not attend Saturday's meeting. Manjhi reacted angrily to the remarks. "Tyagi has gone mad," he told reporters in Khagaria.
The fight between the two groups spilled on to the streets today. Supporters of Kumar and Manjhi clashed outside state JD(U) headquarters. JD(U) sources said some people under the banner of Dalit Mushar Chetna Samiti assembled outside the party office, shouted slogans and burnt effigy of Nitish Kumar.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna, Jitendra Rana said police force has been deployed there after the incident.
The protesters also allegedly attacked some people believed to be supporters of the former Chief Minister, who had quit after the Lok Sabha election debacle last year and had handpicked Manjhi to succeed him.
Tyagi described the meeting called by the party President as "valid".
According to JD(U) constitution, under Rule 21, the party the President has the power to call a meeting of Legislature Party, he told reporters. Meanwhile, BJP was adopting a "wait and watch" approach.
"We are keeping a watch over the situation and will take a decision at right time...all options are open for BJP," senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi told PTI when asked if BJP would extend support to Manjhi in case he is removed by his own party.
Some ministers including HRD minister Brishen Patel, Nitish Mishra, Mahachandra Prasad Singh and Narendra Singh came to CM's residence to express support to him.
Rebel JD(U) MLAs Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo and Ravindra Rai also arrived at Manjhi residence to chalk out their strategy. Kumar's residence was also abuzz with activities.
A training programme for JD(U) dalit, mahadalit and schedule tribe cell was held at Kumar's residence. JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, K C Tyagi and a large number of ministers were present there.
In the 243 member Bihar House, JD(U) has 115 MLAs, BJP 88, RJD 24, Congress 5, CPI 1, Independents 5 (2 supporting JD-U) and 5 seats are vacant.
Tyagi said JD(U) enjoyed majority in the Assembly and it could prove this on floor of the House.
"Except for 8 MLAs whose membership has been terminated by Speaker, notices have been sent to 111 JD(U) MLAs and 41 members of Legislative Council to take part in the 'most urgent' meeting of Legislature party convened by Sharad Yadav here tomorrow," state minister Shrawan Kumar said.
Shrawan Kumar and some other ministers including PK Shahi, who is a former Advocate General of the state, Rajiv Ranjan Lallan and Bijendra Yadav held a meeting with Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary.
Blaming Bihar Chief Minister Manjhi for the political imbroglio in the party, Tyagi said, "Enough is enough. Nitish Kumar will rescue the boat of JD(U) that is being sunk by Manjhi."
RJD President Lalu Prasad has given signal for ouster of Manjhi and Nitish Kumar taking over the rein saying RJD support was to a party and not an individual. Congress said it is keeping an eye over the situation.
Later, attacking Nitish Kumar, Manjhi described the former chief minister as "Bhisma Pitamah" whose silence has escalated tension in the JD(U). Addressing a function at Dheena village in Saharsa district, Manjhi claimed the day he started talking about welfare of poor, Kumar stopped talking to him.
Manjhi also called Tyagi a "yamduta".
Stating that the "battle bugle has been sounded", Manjhi claimed that even legislators had to wait for six months to meet Kumar when he was Chief Minister. However, Manjhi said that after he became the CM, the doors were open for legislators, leaders and party workers.
None of the minister or district JD(U) leaders accompanied Manjhi at the function. Only RJD MP from Madhepura Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav and JD(U) dalit MLA Ratnesh Sada were with him.
Meanwhile, security at a hotel where Sharad Yadav is staying here has been enhanced in view of the gathering of a large number of slogan-shouting Manjhi supporters. Over half-a-dozen JD(U) MLAs sat on dharna to protest against violence in front of JD(U) headquarters in the day.
Baikunthpur MLA Manjit Singh told PTI that they were sitting on dharna near the Assembly gate to protest against the violence unleashed by some persons "hired" by BJP to create disturbance ahead of the party meeting on Saturday.
There is no word on arrival of Governor Kesrinath Tripathi, who is also Governor of West Bengal and Meghalaya, to Patna.
Dogged by controversies ever since Manjhi took over from Nitish after the Lok Sabha debacle, the party decided to set its house in order for the assembly elections later this year by bringing him back at the helm.
He said the decision to give "marching orders" to Manjhi has "become imperative" in view of his repeated controversial remarks and activities for the past few days despite being asked by top leaders to mend his ways. He said the 2010 mandate in Bihar was in the name of Nitish Kumar and "Manjhi was only a temporary arrangement".
For Saturday's meeting called by party President Sharad Yadav, notices were on Friday sent to 111 party MLAs and 41 members of Legislative Council including Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Nitish Kumar.