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Since 1st March, 1999
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MLAs stripped of voting rights
- Alam springs surprise on floor test eve

Ranchi, Aug. 28: Springing a surprise a day before the trust vote, Speaker Alamgir Alam today suspended the voting rights of two rebel BJP legislators Vishnu Bhaiya and Manohar Prasad Tekriwal for prima facie violating the anti- defection law.

Both the legislators had openly supported JMM chief Shibu Soren to form the UPA government. Soren had also paraded them with other UPA legislators at the Raj Bhavan.

The Speaker, however, spared the other three BJP rebels, Ravindra Rai, Pradeep Yadav and Kunti Devi. Alam had issued notice to the five BJP rebels yesterday with a directive to file reply within 24 hours after the BJP asked the Speaker to disqualify them ahead of the trust vote. But, the MLAs today sought “adequate” time to file replies.

Alam, however, told The Telegraph that there was no question of granting them time. “I had enough evidence against Bhaiya and Tekriwal to suspend their rights during the trust vote. Besides, I have also issued notices to eight MLAs facing disqualification under the Xth Schedule of the Constitution to file replies within 10 days,” he said.

The Speaker’s prompt action was attributed to two reasons. First, he feared that the Supreme Court might intervene in the issue as the BJP had planned to file a petition in the Supreme Court today challenging the Speaker’s inaction in at least 10 pleas filed under the Xth Schedule.

Second, Soren faced tantrum from the Congress and RJD legislators and there was a possibility of a few legislators skipping the trust vote. The Speaker’s move could have come to ease Soren’s task of proving majority in the floor of the House.

The BJP, which deferred its plan to move the Supreme Court after the House was summoned on a short notice, was not satisfied with the Speaker’s action.

Three BJP MLAs Sarayu Roy, Chandresh Oraon and Sameer Oraon today petitioned the Speaker to suspend the voting rights of all the MLAs facing charges of violating anti-defection law.

The other MLAs (now ministers) on the chopping block are Anosh Ekka, Stephen Marandi, Kamlesh Singh and Bhanu Pratap Sahi.

Two other BJP rebels — Rai and Yadav — also castigated Alam’s action. “The Speaker’s notice seeking reply to the showcause within 24 hours was in violation to the rules framed by the Assembly to deal with the cases filed under the Xth Schedule of the Constitution,” they said.

The duo also fired salvo at Leader of Opposition Arjun Munda for shooting a letter to disqualify them when Soren was seeking the trust vote.

“The BJP leadership suspended us some two years ago. But Koda took up the issue on the eve of the trust vote. It’s known that we will vote against the Soren government. So, Munda’s action is aimed at supporting Soren during the trust vote,” they said, reminding that Munda was a JMM MLA before joining the BJP.

The Speaker’s action, however, is unlikely to effect the number game in the House as Soren has support of 42 members. Besides, the CPI with one MLA has also extended support to the Soren government. Soren would seek trust vote in the Assembly tomorrow even as Governor Syed Sibtey Razi had asked him to face the trial of strength by September 1.


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