5 Bihar ministers skip CM Manjhi programme

5 Bihar ministers skip CM Manjhi programme

5 Bihar ministers skip CM Manjhi programme

Uneasiness inside JD(U) with Jitan Ram Manjhi today came to the fore after five of his Cabinet colleagues skipped an official programme being attended by the Bihar Chief Minister, who is already embattled by the row over appointment of his son-in-law as Personal Assistant.

The chief minister also made a candid comment that his days as Chief Minister are numbered.

"Mujhe pata hai main kuch dino ke liye hi CM hu (I know that I am CM for a few days only)," Manjhi said in his address at a seminar organised by 'Sikshak Sangrah Morcha'.

While he was addressing the seminar, five chairs beside him with name plates of the ministers remained vacant on stage at S K Memorial hall.

The ministers, who were conspicuous with their absence, are -- HRD minister Brishen Patel, Rural Development and Parliamentary Affairs Shrawan Kumar, Food minister Shyam Rajak, Urban Development minister Samrat Chaudhary and Animal Husbandry minister Baidyanath Sahni.

Manjhi also said that he does not have "extraordinary calibre" so that leaders appoint him as CM of the secular alliance.

The absence of ministers from the programme kicked off heated political debates about future of Manjhi as CM amid reports of power tussle between him and his predecessor Nitish Kumar.

All the five absentee ministers are close confidante of Nitish Kumar. But the ministers sought to play down the event with some of them saying they had no formal invitation while others mentioned other engagements.

However, Shrawan Kumar, President of the organisation 'Bihar Rajya Arajkiye Prarambhik Sikshak Sangrah Morcha', said they had invited all the five ministers.

"They had assured us that they will come...but nobody came...what can we do about it?" he said.

"I had told the organisers before hand that I have to go to another programme," HRD minister Brishen Patel, who was mentioned as chief guest at the seminar with the CM, told PTI.

Shyam Rajak and Samrat Chaudhary claimed they had no official invitation for the seminar and their names were not even mentioned in the invitation card for the programme.

Rajak said it was wrong to attach political meaning to the episode. "Manjhi is our Chief Minister and I have shared dais with him on several occasions," he told PTI.Samrat Chaudhary described Manjhi as "like his father under whose leadership the government is working."

The latest event follows a number of occasions where former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar skipped functions where he had to share dais with Manjhi due to purported "differences" between them.

Some of recent utterances of Manjhi like "chopping off hands of doctors" and some off the cuff remarks on prevalence of corruption has put the party in a poor light ahead of the Assembly poll next year.

The matter has also come to the notice of JD(U) President Sharad Yadav, who had come to Patna last week. Manjhi has denied any tiff with his predecessor and has described him as "undisputed" leader of JD(U) under whose leadership the party would contest the assembly election.