The National Democratic Alliance government in Bihar, led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, on Monday won the trust vote in the state assembly, with 129 MLAs voting in favour of the motion, amid a walkout by all non-NDA members.
Altogether, 129 legislators voted in favour of the motion, but Kumar rose to suggest that the vote of Deputy Speaker Maheshwar Hazari, who belongs to the JD-U, also be counted.
Usually, the person in the Chair does not take part in voting, unless there is a tie.
Hazari ordered a headcount after having declared the motion as passed through voice vote, following a request from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, which was seconded by Kumar, the Janaat Dal-United president.
The NDA, comprising the JD-U, BJP, former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM and an Independent, had a combined strength of 128 in the 243-strong assembly. However, it received a shot in the arm with three RJD MLAs -- Prahlad Yadav, Chetan Anand and Neelam Devi -- walking over to the ruling side.
BJP MLAs, who were elated at the party's return to power after a gap of nearly 17 months, erupted in chants of ‘Jai Shree Ram' as the trust vote was won by the chief minister, who spoke for nearly 30 minutes, venting spleen against erstwhile allies RJD and Congress as also the opposition INDIA bloc, which he had helped form.
Pointing towards RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, who had served as his deputy till he remained with the ‘Mahagathbandhan', Kumar fumed: “What was the shape of Bihar while it was ruled by his father (Lalu Prasad). There were no roads, people were afraid of venturing out in the dark after sunset. We set it right upon coming to power in 2005.”
The JD-U chief, who was taunted by Yadav with the remark “what is the guarantee that Kumar will not do a flip-flop yet again?”, asserted that he was “with my old allies for ever”and lamented that his efforts to bring together parties opposed to the BJP proved to be of no avail.
“I had warned the Congress that things were not going well (in INDIA bloc). Some people were having problems with me occupying the centre-stage. Even his (Yadav's) father seemed to have joined my detractors,” alleged Kumar, who was seen as a contender for the post of a convenor or the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition coalition.
Kumar also came down heavily on Yadav for the claim that the state witnessed large-scale recruitment of teachers as a result of the RJD's commitment to job creation.
“Your party (RJD) has been involved in financial wrongdoings whenever it has been in power. All good work was done when the education department was held by my party. For a brief period, it was with the Congress but you people created problems even back then,” the CM claimed.
The allusion was to Ashok Choudhary, former state Congress president, who had held the education portfolio when Kumar first shared power with the ‘Mahagathbandhan' between 2015 and 2017. Choudhary subsequently switched over to the JD-U and was a powerful minister till recently.
The JD-U supremo also questioned the RJD's claim of championing the cause of Muslims, and pointed out that it was only under his rule the state did not witness any major communal conflagration, unlike in the past, and even the culprits of the 1989 riots, which took place before the ascendancy of Lalu Prasad, were brought to justice only after the NDA came to power.
Earlier, the House passed a resolution for the removal of Awadh Bihari Chaudhary who belongs to the RJD, but had refused to resign after the party lost power, and a no-confidence motion was moved against him by the NDA.
A point of order was raised by Yadav when he saw the three MLAs of his party sitting on the ruling side's bench.
All the three members voted along with the NDA in favour of the no-confidence motion, which was supported by 125 MLAs and opposed by 112.
According to NDA sources, some MLAs of the JD-U-BJP combine had not reached the House when the motion was taken up. They were, however, present during the trust vote.
Those who opposed the no-confidence motion against the Speaker included Akhtarul Iman, the lone MLA of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM, which is not a part of the Mahagathbandhan.'
“It is the stated policy of AIMIM to remain opposed to communal forces at all costs. I took a stand in line with the policy,” Iman told PTI.
Election of the new Speaker is now likely to take place on Tuesday, as the day's proceedings were adjourned after the trust vote, which concluded late in the afternoon, with no breaks in between.