Jitram MajhiJanaboli/20 Feb, Kathmandu. Jitan Ram Manjhi has resigned as Chief Minister of Bihar hours before a trust vote that he seemed certain to lose, despite the support of the BJP.

Mr Manjhi had incited a political commotion by refusing to vacate office for his former boss, Nitish Kumar, who resigned after their party performed abysmally in last year’s national election. Mr Manjhi was selected by the Janata Dal United or JDU as a seat-warmer for Mr Kumar, who was asked last month to return as Chief Minister and lead the party’s campaign for the state election later this year.

When Mr Manjhi proved noncompliant, he was expelled from the party. “The BJP’s game-plan has been exposed; it tried to break and reconfigure loyalties and has been unsuccessful,” said Mr Kumar today after his rival resigned.

Mr Manjhi, however, said that though most legislators support him, “they were receiving death threats” to dissuade them from backing him in today’s crucial vote.

Governor KN Tripathi must now decide if Mr Kumar should be allowed to prove that he has the confidence of the House and can return as Chief Minister, or whether the state should be governed by the Centre via President’s Rule.

Mr Manji’s status as a top leader of the Mahadalits, an extremely poor and under-privileged caste in Bihar, and Mr Kumar’s status as the BJP’s Enemy No 1 led to the party allowing its nearly 90 state legislators to back the Chief Minister in the trust vote. “We are only looking at ensuring that Nitish Kumar’s insult to a Mahadalit is not taken lying down,” said Sushil Modi of the BJP.

But even with that bolstering, Mr Manji was nowhere within reach of the 117 votes that he would need to remain in office.

The BJP and the JDU aborted a lengthy alliance at the insistence of Mr Kumar ahead of the national election. Mr Kumar erred gravely. His party won just two seats in the national election.

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