Bihar Speaker non-committal on status of 13 ‘rebel’ MLAs

Refuting the charge of conspiring to split the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said in Patna on Tuesday that the crisis in the RJD was their own doing.

“They (RJD) are blaming outsiders for the crisis in their party. Actually their house is on fire because of a short circuit and they are blaming others for the fire. The Speaker’s house was attacked and unparliamentarily language was used against him,” Mr. Kumar said on his return to Patna from Delhi.

Earlier, Bihar Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary denied that his circular, which recognised 13 ‘rebel’ RJD MLAs as a separate bloc, was in violation of the Constitution or the Anti-defection law. Going on backfoot, he said the circular was “an interim decision”. He also remained non-committal over the status of the 13 MLAs. “We are examining the matter. A final decision will be taken later,” Mr. Choudhary said when asked if the 13 MLAs were still a part of the RJD in light of the circular.

“On February 24, I took an interim decision which means the final decision was to come later. I gave an interim recognition to a separate bloc, which is fully under the ambit of law. No illegality has taken place. I am also studying the declarations (of allegiance to RJD) of nine MLAs. In their appeals, they have not denied signing the earlier letter expressing the wish to merge with the Janata Dal (United),” he told a press conference at his residence in Patna. He said he had verified all the signatures by meeting each of the 13 MLAs.

On the requirement of two-third MLAs as per the Anti-defection law, the Speaker remarked, “Human errors happen.” He denounced the stone-throwing outside his house as a pressure tactic to “threaten and intimidate” for the scheduled caste community, to which he belongs. “The stones thrown at my house were not directed at the Speaker, but at me as a person from the Dalit community. They thought an SC person cannot have knowledge of the Constitution,” he said. As for Lalu Prasad’s accusations against Mr. Choudhary of having Naxal links, the Speaker said, “I am being humiliated. They should prove the allegations.” He denied the RJD’s charge that he had taken the decision to recognise the separate bloc under Mr. Kumar’s pressure.