Patna: Less than 24 hours before Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s floor test, Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary today granted the status of principal opposition party to the Janata Dal(United) in place of an angry BJP, which protested loudly, slamming the move as “arbitrary”.
The Speaker said JD(U) leader Vijay Chaudhary would now be the leader of opposition in place of the BJP’s Nand Kishore Yadav.
The JD(U) will also be given the status of main opposition in the upper house or Legislative Council.
“The Assembly Secretariat has to act according to numerical strength and since JD(U) had sought the status of main opposition, we had no reason to deny them this considering their numbers,” Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary told PTI.
A furious BJP sat on protest in front of Assembly entrance to protest the Speaker’s decision. The party argues that despite Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi being expelled by his party, he continues to head a JDU government.
“This is for the first time in the country that a party –JD(U)– will sit in both treasury and opposition sides,” the BJP’s Nan Kishore Yadav said.
But the Speaker has declared Mr Manjhi an unattached member in the Legislative Assembly. Tomorrow, he has to prove that he has the support of 117 legislators to continue as chief minister, a stretch target.
The JD(U) says it will oppose Mr Manjhi’s trust vote tomorrow so it must be seated as the opposition. Even discounting the JDU members who support Mr Manjhi, the party has more legislators in the house than the BJP does.
Officially, now, in the 243-member Bihar Assembly – whose effective strength at present is 233 – the JD(U) has 110 MLAs including the Speaker, the BJP has 87, Laloo Yadav’s RJD has 24, the Congress has five, the CPI one, and there are five Independents. One member, the Chief Minister, is unattached.