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Shaky Hemant on Speaker support

Ranchi, March 20: The Hemant Soren-led government is on thin ice but may survive its shrinking MLA support base without cracking due to the relative nature of numbers and the considerable clout of Assembly Speaker, it was apparent today when Congress MLA Chandra Shekhar Dubey formally resigned from Vidhan Sabha.

Dubey, now the TMC nominee for Dhanbad, is out of the Assembly numbers game. After Speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta accepted his resignation, the strength of the Assembly is officially down to 81 and that of treasury bench to magic number 42.

When two JMM defectors to the BJP, Hemlal Murmu and Bidyut Baran Mahto, file their poll papers as the lotus party candidates, the Assembly equation might change again but not enough to topple the Hemant government.

If Murmu and Mahto quit their Assembly membership, in the event of a no-confidence motion against the Hemant government, they can’t increase the Opposition BJP’s vote count as they won’t be MLAs then.

Also, the Speaker’s role would be critical.

Breaking his silence for the first time, the Speaker told The Telegraph that even if the duo did not quit their Assembly membership, he might “use the anti-defection law against them and bar them from voting”, preventing Opposition votes from increasing.

On Murmu and Mahto, who will contest Lok Sabha from Rajmahal and Jamshedpur on BJP tickets, the Speaker said: “The Assembly secretariat will take action against both. But only when they file nomination papers as BJP candidates or we have concrete evidence to prove they have really joined the BJP without quitting their Assembly membership. We cannot act merely on the basis of media reports.”

Also, the Speaker casts his vote in case of a tie during a floor test. Being a JMM man, Bhokta will back the Hemant-led government.

Defectors Dubey, Murmu and Mahto apart, the two other men to watch out for are MLA Bandhu Tirkey (Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch) and MLA Chamra Linda (Rashtriya Kalyan Paksha), who merged their small outfits to join the TMC fold.

The anti-defection law wasn’t applicable for the two, the Speaker said. Both did not defect from one party to another, they merged their own outfits with a bigger entity. Both have pledged to back Hemant.

Yesterday, when JVM chief Babulal Marandi asked governor Syed Ahmed to dismiss the Hemant government, thundering it lost its majority, his rival and BJP’s Arjun Munda asked “why the hurry?”

While views of both the former chief ministers have their own following in power corridors, insiders say the main threat to the Hemant government is the unpredictable behaviour of MLAs. If two or three more MLAs sever ties with ruling alliance in the coming days before filing of poll papers, Hemant will be forced to depend on the mercy of three MLAs belonging to JD(U) and CPI ML (Liberation).

Turncoat MLAs rushing to newer pastures for Lok Sabha tickets of their choice have been Jharkhand’s biggest pre-poll drama so far, bringing to sharp focus the fragility of coalition politics where every legislator becomes a number and every number counts.

Dubey, who defected from the Congress to the TMC, is claiming high moral ground. “I have never compromised on my principles. Those who unnecessarily humiliated me will get a befitting reply from the people of Dhanbad during Lok Sabha polls,” he said after formally handing over his resignation letter to Bhokta.


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