The Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance government is all set to face a floor test on Monday to prove its majority in the Bihar Assembly.
On the eve of the crucial floor test, political parties in the State remained busy on Sunday trying to keep their flock together.
All 79 MLAs of the Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have been camping at the residence of former Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav since Saturday night. On Sunday evening, 16 of the 19 MLAs of the Congress returned from Hyderabad and went directly to Mr. Yadav’s residence.
Similarly, the 16 MLAs of the Left parties also reached there. All 114 MLAs will stay overnight at Mr. Yadav’s residence and leave for the Assembly on Monday morning. Bihar Congress chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh was also present there. Later in the evening, a large number of police personnel were deployed outside Mr. Yadav’s residence.
The BJP MLAs, who were camping at a resort in Bodh Gaya, also returned to Patna. They were taken to the residence of Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Kumar Sinha.
Late in the evening, the 45 MLAs of the Janata Dal(United) were asked to gather at the official residence of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Choudhary for a Legislature Party meeting led by Mr. Kumar. However, four MLAs gave it a miss. They had also skipped the lunch organised by Cabinet Minister Shravan Kumar on Saturday.
They are Barbigha MLA Sudarshan Kumar, Sursand MLA Dilip Ray, Rupauli MLA Beema Bharti and Parbatta MLA Sanjeev Kumar. The Hindu tried to contact them, but their mobile phones were either switched off or not reachable. The JD(U) also issued a whip to its legislators to vote in support of the motion.
Earlier in the day, RJD national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Manoj Jha urged the NDA MLAs to vote according to their conscience. He also hit out at the ruling government for moving a no-confidence motion against Speaker Awadh Bihari Choudhary, who belongs to the RJD.
Mr. Jha claimed that as per a Supreme Court judgment, a no-confidence motion against the Speaker must be supported by at least 122 MLAs in the 243-member Assembly.
The Speaker had earlier said that he would not step down before the floor test.
The no-confidence motion is likely to be taken up soon after the Governor’s Address to a joint sitting of of the Bihar Legislative Assembly and the Bihar Legislative Council.
The total strength of the Bihar Assembly is 243 and a party or alliance needs the support of at least 122 MLAs to prove its majority. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has 128 MLAs, including 78 from the BJP, 45 from JD(U), and four from the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular). The Opposition grand alliance has 114 MLAs, including 79 of the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD), 19 of the Congress, and 16 of the Left parties.
After the Legislature Party meeting, Mr. Vijay Choudhary told mediapersons that the NDA would win the trust vote on Monday. “Nitishji addressed our MLAs during the Legislature Party meeting and we are confident of winning the floor test. Two or three MLAs were not present in the meeting, however they had informed party officials and taken prior permission. Everyone knows that our number is 128 and we have the majority,” he said.
Asked about the claim made by Mr. Jha with regard to having the support of 122 MLAs to remove the speaker, Mr. Choudhary said, “Even he knows the rules very well. The rules say, if 38 MLAs or more vote in support of a no-confidence motion against the Speaker by standing, the voting is legally valid and the speaker should himself leave the chair and then the deputy speaker resumes the proceedings of the house.”