In a cause of concern for the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in Bihar, three of its MLAs again skipped the crucial meeting of legislators convened in Patna on Sunday evening. The floor test of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is scheduled for Monday. Six MLAs had earlier skipped the luncheon meeting at the house of minister Shravan Kumar on Saturday.
The JD (U) has 45 MLAs in the house of 243 in Bihar assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 79 MLAs, while its alliance partner Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S) has four MLAs and with support of one independent, the NDA has 128 MLAs in the house against 115 of the Grand Alliance (GA). To achieve the majority mark, an alliance needs 122 MLAs.
The JD-U MLAs who did not attend the meeting include Rupauli MLA and former minister Bima Bharti, Sursand MLA Dilip Ray, who was earlier with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Barbigha MLA Sudarshan Kumar.
JD (U) minister Vijay Kumar Chowdhary, however, downplayed the absence of three MLAs and said that they had informed the party about their absence for this meeting. “We are assured of proving our majority. Two-three MLAs did not come but they had informed the party. All of them would be here by morning. Our (NDA) strength is 128 and we will prove it,” Chowdhary told media persons.
“We will get the majority with ease. There is no need to worry,” the CM told the meeting, as quoted by Chowdhary. The meeting lasted for more than 90 minutes.
Giving a brief about the proceedings of Monday, Chowdhary said that after the governor’s address, the first proposal would be brought for the removal of Speaker. “As per the rules, the Speaker would ask as to how many legislators do support the proposal to remove the Speaker. As per legislative rules, if 38 or more MLAs support the proposal, it gets accepted and then in scenario it is expected that the Speaker vacate his chair till the proposal is defeated. The deputy speaker takes over the chair and takes up the proposal to remove the Speaker. Then the trust vote will be taken up,” he said.
JD-U MLA Gopal Mandal, who also skipped Saturday’s lunch said, “2-3 MLAs were not present today but they are in touch with us.
BJP MLAs return
Meanwhile, the BJP MLAs who were attending two-day training camp at Bodh Gaya returned to the state capital on Sunday evening and re-assembled at the residence of deputy chief minister Vijay Kimar Sinha for dinner.
However, the much-publicised virtual address of Union home minister Amit Shah did not take place and instead the party leaders were given pep talk by the party’s Bihar in-charge Vinod Tawde.
“It (the two-day training camp) is once-a-year affair. It has been held ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election for which we have to frame a strategy, so that NDA wins all the 40 parliamentary seats in the state,” said a BJP legislator.
Speaking about the floor test, deputy CM Vijay Kumar Sinha said, “They (RJD) are in fear. They know that their MLAs can leave them anytime as they (MLAs) are fed up with dynastic and corrupt politics. The mentality of keeping MLAs as a forced labourer weakens the democracy. People in this 21st century have started looking beyond those who made ‘Bihari’ a kind of abuse.”
“There is nothing to fear. The big question is why are (RJD) MLAs locked inside the house of former deputy CM (Tejashwi Yadav)? We will win,” said BJP MP Ravishankar Prasad.
HAM-S leader and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi had already reiterated his party’s support for Nitish Kumar. The HAM-S legislators earlier on Sunday held a meeting at the residence of Manjhi. “Everybody is intact in the NDA. Today, everybody holds PM Modi’s leadership in high regard. All MLAs (BJP, JD-U, HAM) will be present tomorrow (Monday),” said Manjhi after the meeting.
RJD, Left MLAs camp at Tejashwi’s house
Meanwhile, opposition RJD and Left legislators of the Mahagatbandhan or the Grand Alliance, have been camping at the 5 Desratan Marg residence of former deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav since Saturday evening.
Former chief minister Rabri Devi met the legislators on Sunday while Congress state president Akhilesh Prasad Singh also visited the residence. People familiar with the matter said that 78 MLAs of RJD out of 79 MLAs and 16 MLAs of three left parties are staying inside Tejashwi bungalow. One woman RJD MLA, Neelam Devi is said to be staying at her residence in Patna.
The JD-U and BJP leaders have slammed the RJD for keeping its MLAs in Tejashwi’s house. “What are they scared of? Why are the MLAs of the RJD being kept inside the house ? It shows their desperation,” said BJP’s state spokesperson Ajay Alok.