Patna: Political activities intensified in Bihar on Saturday ahead of the Nitish Kumar government’s parliamentary test on February 12, with the Janata Dal (United) issuing a whip to its legislators to be present in the assembly during the vote, while the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) moved all its MLAs and MLCs to temporary shelter at Tejashwi Yadav’s residence in Patna, people familiar with the developments said.
The JD(U) whip came after at least five of its total 45 MLAs failed to show up for a lunch organized at party leader and state minister Shravan Kumar’s house on Saturday. Of the five MLAs, two were said to be out of the state while one was undergoing medical treatment, a JD(U) source said.
“A whip has been issued directing MLAs to remain present in the House and vote for the government whenever the occasion arises,” Shravan Kumar told reporters, describing the move as a “routine exercise” before a session of the assembly.
The Rural Welfare Minister warned that MLAs who defy the whip would have to face “consequences”, including “the loss of their membership”.
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The parliamentary test was necessary after Nitish Kumar was sworn in as Bihar chief minister for a record ninth time on January 28, following a dramatic about-face, abandoning the grand alliance he shared with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress to form a new government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which it had ditched less than 18 months ago.
Meanwhile, political circles were abuzz with speculation about a litmus test due to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s slim majority in the 243-member assembly. The NDA has the support of 128 legislators (78 from the BJP, 45 from the JD(U), Hindustan Awam Morcha-Secular (four) and one independent), six more than the majority mark. The four legislators from the HAM-S, led by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, gave the NDA a cushion in case of any last-minute dissent in the ruling parties.
The Opposition Mahagathbandhan has the support of 115 MLAs, including 79 from RJD, 19 from Congress, 12 from Communist Party of India Liberation (Marxist-Leninist) and five from other smaller partners.
On Saturday morning, CPI(ML) leader Mahboob Alam met Manjhi, sparking speculation about a last-minute understanding. While Alam later described the meeting as a “courtesy call” to inquire about Manjhi’s health, the HAM-S leader seemed confident that the NDA would pass the floor test.
“Nitish Kumar has the support of 128 MLAs. Everyone will vote in his favor on February 12. There is no chance of the government collapsing,” said Manjhi, whose party also issued a whip to its four legislators.
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The opposition RJD on Saturday moved its 79 MLAs and eight MLCs to a temporary shelter at former deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav’s residence 5, Deshratn Marg to stifle the possibility of “negotiation” attempts by the ruling alliance, an official said. of the party.
“All arrangements have been made for a comfortable stay of the legislators at the residence of Tejashwi Yadav. There are no restrictions on the movement of any legislator,” said an RJD MLA, requesting anonymity.
On Saturday night, all 12 CPI-ML (Liberation) MLAs also attended a meeting at Tejashwi Yadav’s residence. The CPI-ML (Liberation) is part of the grand alliance led by the RJD along with the Congress, which has already shifted its MLAs to a resort near Hyderabad, the capital of party-ruled Telangana.
Reacting to this situation, the BJP accused the RJD of keeping its leaders under “house arrest”.
“Sensing unrest among some RJD MLAs, the party has put them under house arrest. On the other hand, the RJD is trying to grab the headlines with all kinds of statements. Actually, the NDA is comfortable and confident from day one,” said BJP leader Nikhil Anand.
(With inputs from Anirban Guha Roy)