Bihar: Grand Alliance fields RJD MLA for Speaker’s post
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led Grand Alliance (GA) has fielded Awadh Bihari Choudhary as candidate against ruling National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) candidate Vijay Kumar Sinha for the post of Speaker in the Bihar assembly.
The Opposition’s move would ensure a contest for the Speaker’s post and would also be the first test of strength for chief minister Nitish Kumar-led NDA government which has a slender majority in the 243-member House.
The GA’s move, breaking the tradition of election of the Speaker unanimously, has also signalled how the Opposition, with its 110 MLAs, is in no mood to give the NDA, with 126 MLAs, much leeway inside the assembly. More so, because the NDA banks heavily on the support of smaller allies like Vikasheel Inssan Party( VIP) and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM)(S).
Leaders of the BJP and JD(U) went into a huddle soon after the GA announced its candidate for Speaker’s post. Its MLAs have admitted privately that the coalition has come under strain over the Opposition’s move.
After filing their nominations on Tuesday afternoon, both Choudhary,who is a six-time RJD MLA and Sinha, a senior BJP MLA, exuded confidence about having the required number of MLAs to win the election. Both of them have served as ministers in previous governments.
“ The RJD, and GA allies, Congress and three Left parties, felt the need to field our own candidate as Choudhary is a senior legislator with wide experience and has the ability to run the House impartially by striking a balance between Opposition and ruling parties. His election as Speaker would help members raise people’s issues and get them addressed,” said Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, leader of the GA and Leader of the Opposition leader in the assembly.
On whether Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM would support Choudhary, Yadav was evasive and said, “We are appealing to all to support our candidate as he is a seasoned legislator having the capability to run the House smoothly.”
As far as the GA’s decision to field its own candidate was concerned, Yadav said, “During the last election for deputy chairman’s post in Rajya Sabha, there was a decision to field a candidate from United Progressive Alliance and our Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha contested it. Have all precedents been followed? There is a precedence that deputy Speaker’s post goes to the Opposition in the state assembly but it was never done by the NDA government despite repeated requests by us.”
Meanwhile, the ruling NDA leaders said the GA’s move to field its candidate would not hamper the prospects of their candidate. “The NDA has made Sinha the candidate for Speaker’s post. We will win,” said senior BJP leader Sanjay Sarougi.
Senior MLAs and experts said the election for the Speaker’s post would first be through voice vote. In case, the Opposition expresses dissatisfaction over the election results declared by Pro-tem Speaker Jitan Ram Manjhi, there would be a vote through counting of members in favour and against the respective candidates.
Significantly, the NDA’s bid to nominate Sinha as a candidate for Speaker’s post has come as a surprise as senior BJP MLA and former minister Nand Kishore Yadav was a front runner for the post, having not been given a ministerial berth in the Cabinet. He is also among the prominent faces in the state BJP who have not got a post in the new NDA government so far, like former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and former minister Prem Kumar.