RJD becomes largest party in Bihar after 4 AIMIM MLAs join it
Four of the five AIMIM MLAs in Bihar on Wednesday joined the RJD, making the principal opposition the single largest party in the 243-member assembly.
Four of the five All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLAs in Bihar on Wednesday joined the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), making the principal opposition the single largest party in the 243-member assembly.
Leader of opposition Tejashwi Yadav, who is also the de facto leader of the RJD, drove the four legislators to the state assembly and met speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha over the their decision to break away from Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s party and merge with the RJD, party functionaries said.
The four MLAs who switched to the RJD are Syed Rukuuddin Ahmed from Baisi, Shahnawaj from Jokihat, Mohammed Anjar Nayami from Bahadurganj and Mohammed IzaharAshwi from Kochadhaman assembly constituencies.
“The four MLAs have merged with our party. We are now the largest party in the state assembly,” Yadav said later at a press conference, where he was flanked by the four legislators.
With this latest development, the RJD now has 80 members in the assembly, edging past the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has 77.
The strength of the pre-poll opposition alliance, comprising RJD, Congress and Left parties, has also increased to 115 in the House, seven short of simple majority of 122.
The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), comprising chief minister Nitish Kumar’s party Janata Dal (United), BJP and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s party Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), has 126 members, besides enjoying the support of an Independent member.
The four MLAs, who switched sides, will not face any action under the anti-defection law, which kicks in only if the defectors constitute less than two-thirds of the total strength of their party.
On their part, the four legislators said the decision to switch was taken in the interest of development of Seemanchal, the impoverished northeastern region of Bihar bordering West Bengal and comprising Araria, Purnia, Kishanganj and Katihar districts which have a sizeable Muslim population.
“We have taken the decision in the interest of development of Seemanchal,” Shahnawaj said.
The AIMIM, which had made a splash by winning five seats in the 2020 assembly elections, is now left with only one MLA, its state president Akhtarul Iman, who represents Amour.
Iman accused RJD of betrayal. “The RJD claims to protect the interests of minorities and weaker sections. But today, the party has not only betrayed the faith and belief of minorities, but also proved that it does not want a strong party to emerge in the state which talks about fighting for Muslims and Scheduled Castes,” he said.
The RJD had performed poorly in Seemanchal area in the 2020 elections.
Constituents of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar also attacked the RJD. “The four MLAs have joined a family-oriented party which is known for practicing appeasement politics,” state BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said.
HAM(S) spokesperson Danish Rizwan said: “On one hand, the RJD condemns the split in Shiv Sena (in Maharashtra) while on the other hand, it is creating a split in AIMIM. It shows its double standards,” he said.
JD(U) state spokesperson Arvind Nishad said his party had nothing to do with the merger of AIMIM MLAs with RJD. “ MLAs have a right to take decisions. This is an internal matter of AIMIM and RJD,” he said.