Patna: Janata Dal(U) in Bihar Tuesday suspended from its fold seven ministers owing allegiance to chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, ahead of the February 20 trial of strength for him on the floor of the Assembly.
The seven ministers were suspended by state JD(U) President Basistha Narayan Singh after receiving consent from the party's National President Sharad Yadav, party chief whip in the Assembly Shrawan Kumar said.
The seven suspended ministers are Narendra Singh, Brishen Patel, Shahid Ali Khan, Samrat Chaudhary, Nitish Mishra, Mahachandra Prasad Singh and Bhim Singh.
Art and Culture minister Vinay Bihari is an independent. JD(U) has already expelled Manjhi from the party after which Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary declared him an unattached member.
Shrawan Kumar said the decision on the suspension was taken after the seven ministers failed to comply with the party's direction to quit the Manjhi cabinet.
The rival camps of Manjhi and his mentor-turned-foe Nitish Kumar meanwhile held separate consultations with their supporters to firm up their strategies even as BJP refused to show its cards.
Manjhi on return from Delhi after a two-day visit headed straight to his residence and was closeted with supporters to draw up the strategy for the February 20 confidence vote.
Ministers Narendra Singh and Vinay Bihari, dissident JD(U) leader Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo and expelled JD(U) MP Shabir Ali were among others who met Manjhi at his residence.
Vinay Bihari exuded confidence of sailing through in the floor test. "We are confident of proving majority on the floor of the house on February 20," he told reporters.
Former chief minister Nitish Kumar remained at his 7 Circular Road residence with senior party leaders who kept pouring in throughout the day.
JD(U) MLC Binod Singh is hosting a dinner for all MLAs supporting Nitish Kumar from JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI and an independent.
A similar dinner is scheduled at senior leader Vijay Chaudhary's residence tomorrow and at Nitish Kumar's residence on February 19, JD(U) sources said.