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RJD’s Rabri Devi fails to get Opposition leader status in Bihar legislative council

The former chief minister missed the bus as her party, the RJD, does not have the strength of 10 members in the 75-member upper House of the bicameral Bihar legislature, required to be eligible for the post.  

india Updated: Aug 04, 2017 17:14 IST
Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Rabri Devi,Bihar legislative council,Leader of opposition
The deputy chairman rejected Rabri Devi’s claim for the position of leader of opposition in the Bihar upper house. (PTI file photo)

RJD member and former chief minister Rabri Devi, on Friday, could not get the status of leader of opposition in the Bihar legislative council, which could have given her the seat bang opposite chief minister Nitish Kumar in the House.

Now, the seat earmarked for the leader of opposition, facing the leader of the House, will remain vacant.

This may be deemed as another setback for the RJD, after its status as the largest partner in Bihar’s ruling grand alliance was reversed to becoming the principal opposition party, last week, when the GA government fell on resignation of chief minister Nitish Kumar, who then formed a new government with the BJP.

Kumar had resigned after the then deputy CM, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav of the RJD, apparently failed to “clear the air” on the CBI FIR against him, in which he has been accused of being a beneficiary of land in Patna given allegedly in lieu for railways hotels leased out to a private party when his father, Lalu Prasad was railways minister (2004-09).

The RJD had recommended Devi’s name for the post of leader of the opposition, enjoyed till last month by BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi, who has since become deputy CM. However, the chairman rejected the RJD claim, as the party did not have the required strength in the 75 member upper House of the bicameral Bihar legislature.

“For leader of opposition status, a party must have a minimum of 10 members in the council, while the RJD has got just seven. Had it got even nine members, it could have been considered, with the chairman also having one vote. But with just seven members, it is not possible,” said Md Haroon Rashid, deputy chairman of the council.

The council does not have a chairman since the end of five-year term of the previous incumbent Awdhesh Narayan Singh, on May 9 last. The RJD was at one stage claiming the chairman’s post in the face of reports that chief minister Nitish Kumar wanted Singh to continue.

However, the fall of the grand alliance government last week, in which the RJD was a partner and the formation of the successor JD (U)-BJP-LJP government, also headed as CM by Nitish Kumar, has upset the RJD plan for house chairmanship.

Rasheed said that with nine members, Ghulam Ghaus had been made the leader of the opposition in the past, but there was no scope of the post going to a party with just seven members.

In the assembly, however, RJD leader and former deputy CM Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav has got the status of leader of the opposition. With 80 members, the RJD is the largest single party in the assembly.

The leader of the opposition gets a cabinet minister’s rank and enjoys certain privileges, including a chamber, vehicle and support staff. Though she is entitled to the privileges as a former CM, the status of leader of opposition will not rest with Devi.

RJD national spokesman Manoj Jha reacted to the development, saying it was in accordance with the “standard operating procedure” of the BJP, which was calling the shots in Bihar now.

“This is how they denied leader of the opposition status to Mallikarjun Kharge in the 16th Lok Sabha. Chief minister Nitish Kumar will never speak on this,” he added.

First Published: Aug 04, 2017 17:14 IST