The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Central rule looms on Bihar

Patna/New Delhi, March 4: Bihar looked to be inching towards at least a brief spell of central rule on the sixth day of the political stalemate over government formation.

Raj Bhavan sources said governor Buta Singh was determined not to invite any person to form a government unless he or she could categorically convince him, with necessary documents, about commanding a majority in the 243-member House.

The elections have thrown up a critically fractured mandate. The governor issued a notification today for the constitution of the Assembly.

'The criticism faced by the governors of Jharkhand and Goa has shut all scope for adventurism in Bihar,' a source said.

'Goa has been put under President's rule despite the Congress proving a majority in the House today. The Jharkhand governor has been forced to advance the date of majority test. The iron hand will continue to be wielded in Bihar, too,' the source added.

Even the zest with which the Rashtriya Janata Dal had been insisting that it, by virtue of being the single largest party, would stake claim to form the government appeared to be disappearing today.

'What do we stake claim for when we know that the magic figure of 122 is hard to get' Central rule is not to our liking but we do not see any option unless (Ram Vilas) Paswan reconsiders his (anti-RJD) stance,' a senior RJD leader said.

The situation took a turn for the worse as the number of Independent MLAs who had vowed not to support a government having any truck with the RJD rose to nine from six yesterday. The 17 Independents have formed a front of sorts.

Even the Left parties ' the CPM and the CPI, which are pre-poll allies of the RJD ' distanced themselves from Laloo Prasad Yadav's efforts to form a government.

The RJD chief today called up CPI general secretary A.B Bardhan, seeking a letter of support for the governor. Bardhan refused and said his party's three MLAs would make no difference to government formation.

According to the CPI leader, 'his (Laloo Prasad's) tally would come to about 95 seats' with the support of the Congress, the NCP, the BSP and the Left. 'Even then he would require the support of Paswan and his 29 MLAs.'

A party statement said President's rule 'is unacceptable to the CPI', yet Bardhan told Laloo Prasad he would consider giving a letter of support only after the RJD chief staked claim on his own as the chief of the single largest party.

The CPM leadership in Delhi is unhappy about the party's Bihar state committee giving the governor a letter of support for the RJD. They believe their lone MLA can hardly make a difference to the numbers game.

The Janata Dal (United), the BJP's ally and, with 55 MLAs, the largest party opposing the RJD, also went on the backfoot during a meeting of its legislators. They were unanimous about wanting Nitish Kumar as their leader but authorised the party's central leadership to decide at an 'appropriate time'.

The BJP, which with 37 MLAs is larger than Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party, appeared to be running out of patience. 'President's rule will be unfortunate. But the person whose stubborn stance is preventing government formation will be responsible for it,' BJP general secretary Giriraj Singh said in a veiled attack on Paswan.

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