Prez poll exposes fault lines in Bihar’s ruling alliance; proactive Tejashwi leads RJD flock
Many MLAs reached the Bihar assembly building voting venue well ahead of commencement of polling at 10 am, only to assemble round their respective party leaders, before they queued up to cast their ballot.india Updated: Jul 18, 2017 23:25 IST
PATNA Voting in the Presidential election on Monday served to underscore the emerging faultlines within Bihar’s ruling grand alliance (GA), as two of its constituents - the RJD and Congress, made common cause of backing opposition candidate Meira Kumar and JD (U), the third constituent, backing NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind.
Many MLAs reached the voting venue in the Bihar assembly building well ahead of commencement of the exercise at 10 am, only to assemble round their respective party leaders before they queued up to cast their ballot to elect the next President of India.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar, who stirred a hornet’s next with the GA by deciding that his party, the JD (U) would back NDA nominee in the Presidential poll, didn’t turn up at the polling venue. This was apparently because he is a member of the state legislative council and, as such, ineligible to vote.
But Kumar’s deputy, RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, was present at the polling venue and “in comman d” as his party MLAs, all 80 of them in the 243-member Bihar assembly, joined 27 Congress MLAs in voting for Meira Kumar.
Tejashwi gave no indication he was under JD (U) pressure to resign as deputy CM, in the wake of an FIR filed against him by the CBI in the ‘land for railways hotels lease’ case. He remained in his chamber with Congress minister Awadhesh Kumar Singh until all RJD and Congress MLAs had voted for Meira Kumar.
Although he too, like CM Kumar, was ineligible to vote in the Presidential poll, being an MLC, BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi arrived early and sat in the chamber of Prem Kumar, leader of the opposition in assembly, to supervise voting.
Modi was seen helping MLAs from BJP’s NDA allies - like Jitan Ram Manjhi-led HAM-S, Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP and Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP, to cast their votes in favour of Kovind.
Water resources minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh and parliamentary affairs minister Shravan Kumar, both of the JD (U), also reached the assembly campus early, apparently to keep a watch on activities of the party legislators.
It was perhaps because of the strained ties between the JD (U) and RJD, following the stalemate caused by Tejashwi’s refusal to put in his papers, that JD (U) MLAs indulging in conversation with legislators of the Congress or the RJD, were separated and guided to Shravan Kumar’s chamber.
“We have a different line (from Congress and RJD) on the presidential poll and this has to be manifested in our actions too,” said Lalan Singh, while guiding party MLA Sarfaraz Alam to the JD(U)’s gathering.
Bihar Congress chief and education minister Ashok Choudhary too spent his time with deputy CM and other party legislators in the assembly till the last vote of party legislators was cast. Congress MLAs, numbering 27, were the first to finish casting their votes.
But JD (U) leaders waited till 2.30 pm as party MLAs, Hari Narayan Singh and Shyam Bahadur Singh arrived late.
Contrary to a claim by RJD leaders, all four Independent MLAs, namely, Anant Kumar Singh (Mokama), Rinku Singh (Valmikinagar), Ashok Chaudhary (Kanti) and Baby Kumari (Bochaha), seemed to have voted for Kovind, going by their activity on the assembly premises.
They rushed to the opposition leader’s chamber to greet the BJP leaders, before standing in the queue to vote.
BJP legislator from Darbhanga, Sanjay Saraogi, was the first to stand in the queue at 8.50 am. But RJD MLA Lalit Yadav, who was also the party’s polling agent, was the first to cast his vote. There were around 100 legislators jostling with one another in queue when the booth was opened for voting.
CPI (ML) (Liberation) legislator from Gopalganj Satyadeo Ram was the last MLA to cast his vote. RJD leader Raj Ballabh Yadav, lodged in Biharsharif jail, also turned up to vote with special permission from the court.
A total of 241 out of 243 MLAs cast their votes on the Bihar assembly premises. RJD legislator from Obra Vinod Kumar Sinha exercised his franchise in Dehradun with permission from the Election Commission of India (ECI). BJP legislator from Bhabhua, Anand Bhushan Singh, did not vote as he was admitted in a Delhi hospital.
Contrary to the claims of RJD leaders, all four Independents, including Mokama MLA Anant Kumar, Rinku Singh (Valmikinagar), Ashok Chaudhary (Kanti) and Baby Kumari (Bochaha) seemingly voted for Kovind, if their activity on the assembly premises was any indication