Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad on Tuesday said Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar conspired to split his party by bribing RJD legislators to join the Janata Dal-United to save his minority government.
"The Nitish Kumar government is killing democracy. It is breaking parties in Bihar," Lalu Prasad said.
"He (Nitish Kumar) gave bribes of crores of rupees," he said, adding that he would be meeting the governor over this. On Tuesday, 16 of the 22 RJD legislators attended a legislature party meeting at the official residence of former chief minister Rabri Devi.
RJD leaders said four rebel legislators — party chief whip Samrat Choudhary, Raghavendra Pratap Singh, Javeb Iqbal Ansari and Akhtarul Iman — did not attend the legislature party meeting.
The RJD has decided to issue show-cause notices to the four MLAs who failed to attend the meeting.
"We will show cause the errant MLAs… asking them to explain reasons behind their absence from our legislature party meeting," RJD legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddique said.
Prasad earlier walked to the Bihar assembly with nine MLAs who were reportedly part of a rebel group that broke away from his party on Monday. A group of RJD workers threw stones at the residence of the Speaker of the assembly.
The RJD chief paraded the rebel MLAs before the secretary of the state assembly, Phool Jha, and submitted two letters signed by the nine MLAs, who said they were with the RJD. Later, Prasad along with his party MLAs marched to the governor’s house to submit a memorandum seeking recall of the notification issued by the assembly secretariat giving recognition to 13 MLAs as a separate group.
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The nine MLAs attended the legislature party meeting of the assembly called by Prasad. Three MLAs, in addition to the six who were paraded before the media, on Monday evening turned up for the meeting.
Earlier, an angry Prasad attacked Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar for the defection. "He is a scandal master. After divorce with BJP he is going to any extent to poach MLAs of rival parties," Prasad told reporters after flying to Patna from Delhi.
He blamed Kumar for hatching a conspiracy with Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary to split the RJD. "The whole world saw his conspiracy which went awry," he said.
However, the Speaker rubbished the allegation made by Prasad and said the decision was lawful.
"I do not know who is saying what on television channels... but the assembly secretariat has taken the right decision," Chaudhary said.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar also dismissed allegations made by Prasad that he engineered a split in the party and said differences within the RJD are out in the open.
"I cannot stop people from making allegations... but a few cracks are appearing in the RJD," Kumar told reporters. "If people are leaving RJD to join us, we are happy to accept them," he added.
The Bihar chief minister also said that it's wrong to say that the Speaker acted under pressure or worked at his behest. He said that his party will never compromise on communal issues.
"In Bihar, JD(U) is the only party fighting the communal forces," Kumar said.
Prasad vowed to expose "other technical details" about the revolt against him by the party legislators.
While Prasad flew to Patna, Kumar left for Delhi just a few minutes after the arrival of the RJD leader but they did not see each other at the airport.
The drama of the defecting MLAs unfolded as 13 of the RJD's 22 members announced that they were leaving the party. Later, senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui paraded six of the 13 MLAs in front of the media to show they were still with the party.
The six MLAs claimed their signatures were forged in the letter that the rebel legislators sent to the Bihar assembly speaker, demanding they be recognised as a separate group. Later in the night on Monday, three more MLAs returned to the RJD's fold.
The MLAs, who split from the RJD, had pledged support to the JD(U) government.
In a letter to assembly speaker Chaudhary bearing their signatures, the 13 RJD MLAs — five of whom are Muslims — had informed him that they were quitting the party.
"In accordance with the request of the 13 MLAs as per an interim arrangement they have been given permission to sit as a separate group," an assembly notification had said.
The RJD MLAs whose signatures were appended on the letter were Samrat Chaudhary, Raghvendra Pratap Singh, Durga Prasad Singh, Lalit Yadav, Anirudh Kumar, Jeetendra Rai, Akhtar-ul-Islam Sahin, Akhtar-ul-Iman, Abdul Gafoor, Faiyazz, Javed Iqbal Ansari, Ram Lakhan Ram Raman and Chandrasekhar.
Six of the MLAs who denied they left the party said they did not consciously sign any letter about walking out of the RJD and forming a separate group.
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Gafoor claimed that the signature of MLAs were taken for different purposes like raising a matter for call attention motion during the assembly session.
"I did not sign any letter consciously to leave RJD ... a fraud has been committed on me," Gafoor said.
Besides Gafoor, the other MLAs who came to the party office to deny a split were Lalit Yadav, Faiyyaz Ahmad, Durga Prasad Singh, Chandrasekhar and Akhtar-ul Islam Sahin.
The RJD has 22 members in the 243-member house, while the JDU has 118 legislators.