|Uday Narayan Chaudhary and (right) Gyanendra Singh Gyanu. Telegraph pictures
Patna, July 12: Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary would hear the JDU’s petition to disqualify four dissident MLAs on July 19 even as one of the rebel leaders termed the party’s move illegal.
Chaudhary, who heard the petition today, fixed Saturday as the next date of hearing in an indication that the party was tightening its noose around the dissident leaders. They had voted against the party’s official nominees in the Rajya Sabha election last month. He also asked the four rebel MLAs — Gyanendra Singh Gyanu, Neeraj Singh Bablu, Ravindra Rai and Rahul Sharma — to furnish their replies by July 16.
Eighteen JDU MLAs had gone against the party’s diktat and voted for candidates challenging former diplomat Pavan Varma and veteran politician Ghulam Rasool Baliabi’s election to the Rajya Sabha. Only four of them have, however, been mentioned in the petition by JDU chief whip Shravan Kumar. Assembly Speaker Chaudhary has summoned them for the next hearing.
Gyanu slammed the move. He said: “The Speaker should have straightway dismissed the petition that had been filed in contravention of the law and several Supreme Court orders. There is neither a provision nor a precedent for disqualifying a member for voting for or against a party candidate. The Speaker has acted at the behest of a leader (read Nitish Kumar) who is acting from behind the scene.”
What has goaded the rebel leaders to smell “foul play” in the party’s move to disqualify their membership is the fact that the JDU has filed the petition only against the four and not all 18. “Action has been initiated only against the four of us to blackmail the remaining 14 members. The move is aimed at coercing other dissidents to fall in line. Efforts were on to win over the dissidents by hook or crook, but our numbers would keep on swelling. We will not be cowed down by the party leadership’s illegal action against us,” he said. The JDU remained silent on why petitions have not been filed against rest of the 14 members for defying the party’s line. Elections to the Rajya Sabha were necessitated after three seats from Bihar were vacated by Ram Vilas Paswan, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ram Kripal Yadav. Sharad Yadav, the JDU national president, who lost the election from Madhepura, won a berth unopposed. Pavan Varma and Ghulam Rasool Baliabi, candidates handpicked by former chief minister Nitish Kumar, faced challenge from Independent candidates Anil Kumar Sharma and Sabir Ali, respectively.
On June 19, Baliabi and Varma polled 123 and 122 votes, respectively, against 107 and 108 polled by their rivals, Ali and Sharma. While 18 MLAs crossed the floor to vote for the rebel candidates, the official nominees romped home with RJD votes in their kitty.
The dissidents pointed out how the party went soft on MLAs Anu Shukla and Renu Kushwaha, who were initially party of the dissident camp. They finally voted for the official party nominees to the Rajya Sabha seats.
Anu Shukla was suspended from the party after she contested the Lok Sabha elections from Vaishali as an Independent and Renu Kushwaha met the same fate when she opted to openly campaign for her husband, Vijay Kushwaha, a BJP candidate for the Madhepura Lok Sabha seat. In the run-up to the Rajya Sabha elections, the JDU had sought the termination of Anu and Renu through a petition to the Speaker. However, neither Chaudhary nor the JDU pursued the matter once they voted for the official nominees.