The rift between the ruling alliance BJP and JD(U) in Bihar apparently escalated further on Monday when the Bihar assembly witnessed heated exchange of words between chief minister Nitish Kumar and Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha of BJP which, later, prompted Mr Kumar to tell the Speaker, “this is not the way the House runs. This is violation of the constitution”.
The argument between both Mr Kumar and Mr Sinha started over an issue of arrest of some people in Lakhisarai, the assembly constituency Mr Sinha has been representing as BJP MLA since long. Earlier, the government had ordered a probe into the issue and it was also referred to the privilege committee of the House but was raised “again and again” by some members and Mr Kumar was apparently perturbed over it. The Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal and BJP members have been raising the Lakhisarai issue in the House on regular intervals causing major embarrassment to the ruling alliance party JD(U) and chief minister Nitish Kumar.
When the BJP MLA from Darbhanga Sanjay Saraogi referred to the Lakhisarai issue in the House on Monday, Mr Kumar suddenly entered into the House and asked the Speaker, “is the House empowered to intervene into the matter? This is against the rule. Please look at the Constitution. This is not the way to run the House”. The Speaker, though, tried to interject Mr Kumar but he continued to say what he wanted to say on the issue. “This issue has been raised again and again in the House. It is for the government and police to take action in such matters. The report of the incidents related with crime is being submitted to the court, not here (in the House). I’ve been an MLA and serving as chief minister of the state for fourth term and never ever have I seen such a procedural anomaly”, added Mr Kumar. “You’re openly violating the constitution”, Mr Kumar further said.
When the Speaker tried to interject Mr Kumar, the chief minister said, “I was listening. I feel hurt. I’ll not accept this”. “My government neither implicates anybody, neither protects anyone. Why are you saying this again and again?”, asked Nitish Kumar. However, when Mr Kumar finished what he had to say, the Speaker while maintaining his calm said, “please understand my predicament. Initially, I had tried not to indulge into any discussion on the issue after it was referred to the privilege committee but members from the treasury benches and the Opposition have been raising the issue again and again. After all, I’m supposed to be the custodian of the House”. He furthers added, “whenever I go to my constituency people there ask me about the issue”. “I learn a lot about constitution from you and your experience, in fact from all senior members of the House. You all have helped me to don this chair (of Speaker)”.
Earlier, the Speaker had alleged wrongful arrest of some people in Lakhisarai while watching a musical programme and violating Covid-19 restrictions during Saraswati Puja celebrations. Later, Mr Sinha had brought breach of privilege motion in the House against some district police officials for misbehaving with him. The issue was later sent to the privilege committee of the House which had directed the Director General of Police (DGP) of the state to conduct an inquiry into it. Later, the chief minister rose to his chair again and said, “I’ll inquire about progress in the investigation today itself and the government will definitely look into whatever recommendations the committee makes but this issue must not be raised on the floor of the House again and again”.
However, outside the assembly premises a senior RJD leader told The Hindu , “the issue of misbehavior by Lakhisarai district police officials now has become a prestige issue for the BJP and has created a widening rift between both the ruling alliance partners. It is not going to die down so easily”.