Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar on Wednesday took the political battle in Bihar to President Pranab Mukherjee, parading about 130 members of Legislative Assembly supporting him, and later said Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi can be asked to prove his majority.
On a day the Patna high court virtually stayed his election as the JD-U legislature party leader, Kumar told reporters after the meeting with the president that delay by the governor is "vitiating" atmosphere and encouraging "horse-trading".
He was flanked by his party President Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and Congress leader C P Joshi who accompanied Kumar during the meeting with the president.
In an apparent change of tactics from demanding that he be called upon to form the government, Kumar said Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi can ask Manjhi to prove his majority if he wished so but the chief minister should be given only minimal time.
Echoing his line, Prasad also said Tripathi should take immediate decision and ask Manjhi to prove his majority. He alleged that the Narendra Modi government was "conspiring" to impose the governor's rule in Bihar.
"Bihar is a sensitive state. If governor's rule is imposed, then we don't know what will happen in Bihar," he said.
Kumar alleged that there was "a game plan to impose president's rule in the state".
"The president heard all the issues and at the end said that he will look into the matter," he said when asked about Mukherjee's reaction. "There is a clear majority on one side. In Patna, we paraded 130 MLAs and on Wednesday also they are standing here with me and one can see where the majority is. Despite this, not paving the way for formation of government is an injustice and playing with democracy," the former Bihar chief minister said.
Kumar arrived in New Delhi from Patna on Tuesday evening, along with the MLAs supporting him, in two commercial flights. He had staked claim before the governor on February 9 to form a government even though Manjhi, who has been sacked from the party, has insisted that he too enjoyed support of a majority of MLAs.
He said the Manjhi government should not be allowed to go ahead with the Budget session, which is scheduled to start from February 20, as it no longer enjoyed majority support. "The budget should be presented by those who are in the government (with numbers). The present government does not have the numbers," he said.
Rejecting BJP's claim that the current political unrest in Bihar was because of JD-U's internal squabble, he said the onus was on the saffron party to explain the delay in taking a decision on the state's crisis.
"Only five political parties have representation in Bihar assembly and four of them are together. The BJP is isolated. The delay is exposing their design to vitiate atmosphere in Bihar and impose the governor's rule," he said.
While the delegation of leaders met the president, the MLAs belonging to the JD-U, RJD, Congress and the Left besides some independents waited in the forecourt of the Rahstrapati Bhawan.