The death of the JD(U) MLA from Maharajganj, Damodar Singh (60), on Thursday two days after the exit of Parveen Amanullah has aggravated the predicament of the already enervated Nitish Kumar government ahead of the budget session from February 14.
The loss of the two MLAs — one by death and another by resignation — has suddenly brought down the JD(U)’s strength from 118 to 116 in the Assembly. Though the effective strength of the House too has come down from 243 to 241, Nitish government still requires six more MLAs to reach the majority quorum of 121 in the 241-member House.
The government survives on the support of four MLAs of the Congress, one of the CPI and four of six Independents. On paper, the government still enjoys the support of 125 MLAs in the House.
But the chief minister will find the situation on the House’s floor quite “awkward” for he has been carrying out strident attack on the Congress and his party is in the process forming a non-BJP and non-Congress front.
“Practically, it will be very hard for us to support the government, which has been attacking us so ferociously, on the floor of the House. We are in a great dilemma. But the decision to withdraw support to a government lies with the party high command. We hope that it will take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time,” the Congress media-in-charge Premchand Mishra said.
The BJP is all out to fish in the “contradictory” relationship between the Congress and the JD(U). “We have already stated that the so-called third front or federal front is the Congress’s B-team that the latter has launched from behind the scene to check Narendra Modi from becoming Prime Minister. Otherwise, how can the Congress continue its support to a government that is actually critical to it?” senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said, adding: “Ye sab (JD-U, Congress, Left) bhitar bhitar ek hain (they are all one behind the curtain).”
The Congress announced its support to the JD(U) when the latter had parted ways with the BJP. There were also strong indications of the JD(U) and the Congress coming together. However, the Congress-led UPA-II’s “reluctance” to accord special category status to Bihar coupled with Sonia Gandhi’s party’s reported preference for the RJD and the LJP as its allies for the 2014 elections has drastically changed the political equations in the state.
Nitish may find it increasingly intriguing to survive on the floor of the House with the support of a party that he is at war with. “The coordination on the floor in the changing scenario will, of course, be a difficult proposition. Let us see how Nitish manages it,” said a senior JD(U) MLA on condition of anonymity.
The grapevine has it that the “beleaguered” Nitish will have no way out other than spending more time and energy to save his government. Damodar died of cardiac arrest at Tilaiya.
Nitish expressed his deep condolence for the party colleague and announced his funeral with state honour.