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Dal rebels buy time to reply

Patna, July 5: The four dissident JDU MLAs appeared before Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary today to give their stand on the party’s plea to the latter to disqualify them for “anti-party” activities.

The four MLAs — Gyanendra Singh Gyanu, Rahul Sharma, Neeraj Singh Bablu and Ravindra Rai — met the Speaker separately in his chamber along with their lawyer. Sources said all of them pointed towards “procedural lapses” on the part of Dal chief whip Srawan Kumar in seeking their disqualification from the House.

The Speaker fixed July 12 as the next date for hearing the four MLAs. The JDU has sought disqualification of two more party MLAs from the House on the same ground. Raju Kumar Singh and Ajit Kumar, who represent Sahebganj and Kanti Assembly seats respectively in Muzaffarpur district have also been given notice to explain their stand on the JDU notice on July 12.

“The fact that the party is targeting more and more dissident MLAs for disqualification indicates that the party is scared. They want to keep the dissident MLAs under mental pressure,” said a dissident MLA.

The Speaker, however, is reported to have asked them to submit their written answers by July 12. The rebels also pleaded that since the budget session of the Bihar Assembly was on, they did not get sufficient time to prepare their answers.

Altogether 18 dissident JDU MLAs had voted against official candidates of the party in the Rajya Sabha bypolls making the Dal scramble towards the RJD for a bailout. The parliamentary affairs minister and Dal chief whip Srawan Kumar had written to the Speaker, asking him to terminate the membership of the four MLAs for “anti-party” activities. Later, the party asked for the disqualification of two more of its MLAs.

So far the dissidents have remained silent inside the Assembly even as the party has chosen to ignore them, they have not been called to meetings or asked to speak in budgetary debates.

Even after defeat in the Rajya Sabha polls, there were no signs of the dissidents giving up their fight against former chief minister Nitish Kumar. They had held meetings and had sworn to fight for “internal democracy” in the party. The dissidents had said they would not upset the Manjhi government but Nitish loyalists had viewed the assurance with scepticism.

Dal sources indicate that more dissident MLAs may be targeted for disqualification. However, the disqualification is unlikely to happen during the budget session, as it will create a ruckus inside the Assembly and a move for the Speaker’s removal would be made by the dissidents backed by the BJP. The strike is likely to happen after the budget session ends.