Politics over the Rajya Sabha by-polls took a decisive turn on Tuesday with the Election Commission (EC) issuing a directive that MLAs were free to vote and political parties cannot issue whips to their respective MLAs in the ensuing polls.
The Nitish Kumar-led JD-U now faces a tough election in which its official candidates, Pawan Verma and Gulam Rasool Baliyawi face stiff challenge from party rebels-backed independents, Anil Kumar Sharma and Shabir Ali. If the two fail to clinch 118 votes in the elections, it would come as a huge setback to the ruling party, already weighed down by over 24 dissidents who are backed by 84 BJP legislators.
Bihar assembly’s acting secretary cum returning officer Hareram Mukhiya forwarded an EC press note to all political parties detailing the Supreme Court verdict, which says all MLAs have liberty to cast their vote as per their will and that parties cannot issue whips to the MLAs. The note was issued after independent candidate in RS by-polls Shabir Ali urged Mukhiya to put the EC directive on the notice board.
At least two dozen MLAs of the ruling JD(U) boycotted the crucial legislature party meeting on Tuesday, which was convened to chalk out strategy for the RS by-polls to be held on June 19.