Patna: A day ahead of Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s floor test in the assembly, Speaker Uday Narain Choudhary notified JD-U leader Vijay Kumar Chaudhary as leader of opposition, replacing Nand Kishore Yadav of the BJP which will support Manjhi during the confidence vote.
The speaker accepted former chief minister Nitish Kumar’s demand that Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) be given the status of the main opposition party. Meanwhile, the BJP decided to support Manjhi during the confidence vote in the assembly Feb 20, said BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
“After a long meeting of the BJP legislators, the party has decided to support Manjhi during his confidence vote in the assembly,” Modi said. Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators created a ruckus and protested in the Bihar assembly complex against the decision to appoint the JD-U leader as the leader of opposition.
“We will not sit silently… giving the status of the opposition party to JD-U is not correct. We will protest against this move,” Yadav told IANS. “How did the speaker take away the opposition party tag from the BJP,” asked senior party leader Shahnawaz Hussain. “We protest against this move as well as the way the JD-U is treating Manjhi, who is a Mahadalit,” Hussain said at a press conference in Delhi.
Hussain also said that the BJP has nothing to with the charges of horse-trading being made by the Nitish Kumar’s camp. Manjhi, after being expelled from the JD-U Feb 9, has been declared as an unattached member in the assembly. He was expelled for allegedly “indulging in anti-party activities”. But he has refused to resign and has to prove his majority in the house Friday.
Manjhi Thursday said he will offer cabinet berths to legislators, who will support him during the confidence motion. “Aaiye mera samarthan kijiye, mantri pad lijiye (come to support me and become a minister),” he told reporters, attending a function here. The statement was criticised by the JD-U.
Earlier, the Patna High Court ordered that eight rebel JD-U legislators, considered close to Manjhi, would not vote Feb 20 during the confidence motion in the assembly. A bench of Justice Iqbal Ahmad barred the JD-U MLAs from voting after hearing their petition, seeking permission to vote during the floor test.
Manjhi was picked by Nitish Kumar as his replacement when he quit last year after JD-U’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls. In the 243-member assembly, the JD-U has 115 legislators — most of whom are with Nitish Kumar. The party has the support of 24 Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) legislators, five Congress MLAs, two Independents and a CPI MLA. The BJP has 88 legislators and is supported by three Independents.