| BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi greets chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on the Legislative Council premises in Patna on Friday as forests, environment and planning minister PK Shahi looks on. Picture by Deepak kumar |
Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary kept the pressure on four dissident JDU MLAs by rejecting their plea to file written replies on why they should not be disqualified from the Assembly for “anti-party activities” till the end of the budget session on July 30.
The Speaker asked JDU’s Gyanendra Singh Gyanu, Rahul Sharma, Neeraj Singh Bablu and Ravindra Rai to submit their replies by July 5. The Assembly is in session to pass the full budget for the financial year 2014-15 and the first supplementary budget.
The dissident MLAs were issued showcause notices by the Speaker’s office after the JDU sought their disqualification from the Assembly for “anti-party activities” during the Rajya Sabha bypolls on June 19, in which they had not only voted against the party candidates but also proposed the names of rival Independent candidates. The Speaker’s office gave notice to the four MLAs to appear before him on June 25 and explain their stand.
On June 25, the dissident MLAs pleaded that the month-long budget session was about to begin on June 27 and they should be allowed to submit their answers after the session concludes on July 30. They were disappointed over not being allotted more time to submit their answers. “We will take legal advice before submitting our answers on July 5,” Gyanendra Singh Gyanu told The Telegraph after stepping out of the Speaker’s office.
The threat of losing their seats looms large on the four dissidents and they fear that they are going to be made examples for opposing Nitish Kumar from within the party.
The Speaker’s rejection to give time to the dissident MLAs is seen in the political circles as a move to keep the sword hanging on them. Altogether 18 JDU MLAs cross-voted against the party’s official candidates. However, action has been taken against only four in the hope that by cracking the whip others would fall in line.
Meanwhile, the month-long session of state Legislative Assembly and Council began on a silent note with the Houses going through the rituals. The Speaker, in his opening speech, stressed the need to make secularism a commitment rather than a political tool. He announced the vacancy of four Assembly seats owing to the resignation of four BJP MLAS elected to Parliament in the Lok Sabha polls before adjourning till Monday.
The dissident MLAs sat silently together.