NDA’s Sinha defeats RJD’s Choudhary in close race for Bihar speaker
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Vijay Kumar Sinha was elected chairman of Bihar’s 17th assembly by majority vote on Wednesday amid a furor caused by a viral audiotape in which Rashtriya chief Janata Dal (RJD) Lalu Prasad is allegedly trying to influence a BJP Member to abstain from voting.
Sinha, the candidate for the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), garnered 126 votes and RJD Awadh Bihari Chaudhary, who was presented by the opposition Mahagathbandhan, or Grand Alliance, garnered 114 votes in the 243-member House.
Pro-tem spokesman Jitan Ram Manjhi then urged Prime Minister Nitish Kumar and opposition leader Tejaswhi Prasd Yadav to escort Sinha to the spokesperson seat.
The election was overshadowed by the furor over an audiotape of a telephone conversation in which Lalu Prasad, in a Ranchi prison in connection with the embezzlement of funds intended to purchase fodder for livestock, allegedly tries to persuade a BJP legislator to abstain. of the vote. Former Bihar Chief Deputy Minister Sushil Kumar Modi shared the minute and a half long clip on his official Twitter account.
“We will take good care of you. Just help us tomorrow defeat the NDA candidate for the speaker’s position, ”the voice allegedly from Prasad can be heard saying on the audiotape of the conversation with Lalan Kumar, who said he had accepted the call from the head of RJD when he was in a meeting with Sushil Modi and handed him the audiotape later.
Bihar Minister Mukesh Sahni, founder of the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), which broke its alliance with the RJD just before the October-November elections and joined the NDA, said on the floor of the Chamber: who make calls to the MLA with the intention of overthrowing a government we have no right to speak of democratic norms ”.
RJD rookie MLA Mukesh Raushan said: “You will see a big shakeup in March. This government will fall and Tejashwi Yadav will become Prime Minister. Legislators from all parties are in contact with us. Just wait and see. “
The speaker’s choice was not without drama either. As soon as the House met and the pro-term president started the electoral process, the opposition raised a scandal, demanding a secret ballot that Manjhi rejected because there was no provision for a secret ballot on constitutional matters.
Manjhi asked for a voice vote on the motion for the speaker’s choice and announced his verdict in favor of the NDA candidate, but with the ruling dispensation, comprised mainly of the BJP and Janata Dal (United), and the opposition (RJD, and the left), closely paired, the difference could not be clearly distinguished. When the opposition objected, Manjhi called for a split vote.
The opposition parties created another uproar, questioning Prime Minister Kumar’s presence in the House; Kumar is a member of the Legislative Council of Bihar, the upper house of the bicameral legislature. Members of the opposition flocked into the Chamber well in protest.
Manjhi said that only members of the House would participate in the vote, but the prime minister’s presence was in his capacity as the leader of the legislature and there was nothing wrong with him being in the House.
“I have been a member of the House for the past 40 years and there is nothing wrong with it,” he said.
The opposition was relentless, Tejashvi Yadav said: “They stole the mandate in 2015 and they have done it again. Now, it is happening before the chair. It is a mockery of democracy ”. Members of the opposition sat in the well of the Chamber to protest.
Manjhi reread the motion for the election of Sinha as spokesperson one more time and asked those in favor to stand up to be counted. “If you have the numbers, go back to your seats and get counted. If you have the numbers, that will be seen, ”he told the opposition, raising the House for five minutes after the recount refused to satisfy the opposition. When the House reconvened, the interim president again ordered the supporters of Sinha’s election to stand up and be counted.
Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap said there was nothing wrong with the CM’s presence in the House and that the president’s decision was paramount. “Such things have also happened in the past, but this is the first time such a lawsuit has been raised. The leader of the Chamber may remain present in the Chamber. It clearly seems like a political movement, ”Kashyap said.
(PTI contributed to this story)