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Dal motion against BJP MLA

The JD(U) today moved a breach of privilege motion against BJP MLA and former minister Ramadhar Singh alleging that his words inside the House on Wednesday had belittled the prestige of the Assembly and its members.

The JD(U) MLA Krishnand Yadav moved the motion when the BJP legislators were in the well of the House demanding a CBI probe into the security lapses in Gandhi Maidan during the party's rally on October 27. The entire JD(U) bench backed the privilege motion against Ramadhar.

A person against whom a breach of privilege motion is moved is asked to appear before the committee and give his explanation before its members. In most cases the case is dropped after the person in question tenders an apology. The panel is empowered to bar MLAs from participating in proceedings for a specific period.

The breach of privilege motion has been moved against Ramadhar because he had alleged on Wednesday “a constitutional post holder inside the Assembly was an aide of the Maoists and an IPS officer investigating the charge against him was transferred by the government. While participating in the special debate on the law and order of the state, he had also said that the same person collected levy on behalf of the Maoists .

Ramadhar even charged the JD(U) with giving four tickets to Maoists in the 2010 Assembly polls. He did not take any name, but everybody in the House could comprehend that the constitutional post holder Singh referred to was Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary, who heads the privilege committee of the House. The BJP MLA's remark had drawn instant protests from the ruling bench. Chief minister Nitish Kumar himself said the BJP MLA had insulted the House and a privilege motion should be moved against him.

Ramadhar remained defiant today after the privilege motion was moved against him. “I have not taken any name. Perhaps the prick of conscience prompted the JD(U)'s move. I have spoken the truth in the House and I have nothing to repent,” he said in the Assembly, getting tacit support from the Opposition MLAs. Several of them congratulated him in the lobby.

The BJP legislative party is backing him. “Ramadhar has said nothing that has lowered the image of the House,” said Nand Kishore Yadav, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

Govt prepares Shinde letter reply on Maoists

The chief minister’s office is preparing a letter to counter Union home minister Sushil Shinde’s claim of Bihar failing to curb Maoist menace. The CMO is making a point-to-point rebuttal against the letter shot by Shinde to Nitish Kumar in which he had rapped the chief minister for failing to curb Maoist activities in the state. Shinde’s letter has evoked strong political ripples in the state. JD(U) Rajya Sabha MPs on Thursday protested the content of the letter and called it an “insult to the Bihar CM” and demanded an apology. However, Shinde has defended his letter.

Nitish speaking to reporters on Friday said he would send in his rebuttal to the Union home minister.

“I am waiting for the winter session to conclude,” he said. He, however, expressed strong resentment over Shinde’s letter being leaked to the media even before it came to him. “I read the letter in a press despatch first. A fax came later. The letter reached me the next day,” he said.

Shinde called the situation in Bihar alarming and stressed that there was a complete breakdown in co-ordination between the state police and the central forces in the state.

High-level probe into stone chips notification

The government has ordered a high-level probe into a notification issued during the tenure of former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi in which the value added tax on stone chips was reduced from 12 per cent to 4 per cent.

Parliamentary affairs minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav announced this in the Assembly on Friday while responding to a call attention of Congress leader Sadanand Singh, who alleged that the state had incurred huge revenue losses because of the notification issued by the finance department in 2007.

There has been a hue and cry over this notification for the past few days and it has been estimated that the state lost around Rs 50 crore between 2007 and 2013 because of the notification.

Modi had said he had nothing to do with the notification because ministers do not issue notifications but officials do. The BJP is seeing the government’s move as an attempt to embarrass Modi who is in the forefront of criticising the Nitish Kumar government ever since the alliance broke. However, Nitish justified the probe pointing out that the notification went beyond the government’s decision.

Speaking to reporters, Bijendra Prasad Yadav said the notification was detected because of an audit objection by Comptroller and Auditor General.

“There was no cabinet approval or legislative nod for reducing the tax even if it was for a government order. The apex court’s judgment, which is quoted by the finance department for reducing the taxes, is not proper and legally valid. Even if the order was for government works department, the notification had reduced revenue collection, which affects the plan size of any state,” he said pointing out that all stone chips in Bihar came from Jharkhand. He said the loss of Rs 50 crore was a mere assumption and the whole affair needed to be probed.

In another development, the chief minister made a statement on measures taken by his government to strengthen the panchayat raj institution.

The House was adjourned sine die. The next session of the legislative Houses will depend on the date of the Lok Sabha elections. If there is an early Lok Sabha poll, a short session may be called to take a vote on account.

State seeks plot gesture from railways for bridges

The Bihar government has written to the Indian Railways asking it to make a “gesture” of handing over the Digha-Patna City tracks land in Malsalami and Patliputra.

The state government had offered to spend Rs 450 crore on two railway bridge projects over Ganga in Patna and Munger.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar said he was awaiting the railway’s response to his request.

The government proposes to construct a four-lane road over the Digha-Patna City railway tracks, which would take care of traffic congestion in the state capital from Digha to Patna City. At present, a shuttle moves between R-Block and Digha with hardly 20 passengers. The Bihar chief minister said the state government had offered to invest Rs 450 crore on the two rail bridges as the allotment for these projects from the railways was low and at this rate the projects would be further delayed by at least three years.

He said he was seeking land south of Patliputra railway station because he wanted to make a passage for local residents, who remained cut-off by the construction of railway station in Patna. The railways had invited Nitish to inaugurate the new railway station. But he had refused to go because people were protesting on the tracks because their passage had been blocked.