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Speaker whip on JVM rebels

Ranchi, Aug. 12: Assembly Speaker will begin discussions from Saturday to determine whether five JVM MLAs, who joined the BJP in Delhi recently, would face the axe under the defection law or not.

Shashank Shekhar Bhokta had given time to JVM turncoats Samresh Singh, Phoolchand Mandal, Chandrika Mahtha, Nirbhaya Shahabadi and Jai Prakash Singh Bhokta to explain why they should not be tried under the Tenth Schedule of Constitution.

However, the five failed to send in their replies and sought more time, prompting the Speaker to announce a hearing. “Initially, I had granted them (the five MLAs) a week’s time to clarify why they should not be tried under the anti-defection law. They sought a month to reply, which was turned down. I, however, gave them another week. The deadline expired on August 10 and I served them notices on August 11,” Bhokta said.

JVM legislature party leader Pradeep Yadav had complained to the Speaker against the defecting legislators, claiming they should lose their House memberships under the anti-defection law.

But Samresh Singh, who claimed he was the leader of the rebel group in the Assembly, argued that since they enjoyed the support of nine sitting JVM MLAs, theirs was a legitimate split and that they should be recognised as a separate unit.

According to the provisions of the anti-defection law, a splinter group must include no less than two-thirds of the parent party to be recognised as a separate entity.

The JVM has 11 MLAs. Hence any group of eight MLAs or more will be considered a separate entity.

Phoolchand Mandal, however, admitted that at the moment they were only five in number, but their strength was likely to swell up before August 16.

“I will engage a good lawyer to plead my case. We have already accepted BJP membership. The question of returning to JVM does not arise,” Mandal said.

Yadav reminded that in 2008, BJP members Ravindra Rai and Manohar Tekriwal lost their Assembly membership under the Tenth Schedule after joining the JVM.

“It may be argued that the anti-defection cases against Anosh Ekka, Kamlesh Singh and Bhanu Pratap Shahi dragged on for five years with no real outcome, but the same Assembly had taken stern measures against rebel BJP MLAs,” he said.