Patna, June 19: The official JDU nominees, Ghulam Rasool Baliabi and Pavan Varma, today emerged victorious in the Rajya Sabha bypoll defeating the party’s rebel candidates — Sabir Ali and Anil Sharma — amid cross-voting.
“Baliabi and Varma polled 123 and 122 votes, respectively, against 107 and 108 polled by their rivals, Ali and Sharma,” said the Assembly secretary, Hareram Mukhia. At least 18 JDU MLAs crossed the floor, voting in the rebel candidates’ favour. Two members each from the RJD and the Congress, too, reportedly voted in the rebels’ favour.
The BJP legislators, who voted in favour of the rebel JDU candidates, stayed intact with 83 of them turning up to cast votes. Only Rameshwar Chourasia abstained from voting as he was said to be in the US. The party got two Independents supporting it to vote for the rebel nominees.
As many as 18 of the 21 RJD MLAs voted in favour of Baliabi and Varma following the directive of their party chief Lalu Prasad to support the JDU candidates. Two of the RJD MLAs cross-voted for the rebels. Kedar Singh abstained from voting because he was in jail in connection with a criminal case.
With Kedar (RJD) and Rameshwar (BJP) abstaining, the effective strength of the House came down to 230 against its actual strength of 243. The required number for victory of a candidate was also down to only 115. Thus, the JDU nominees romped home despite large-scale cross-voting.
The support of 18 RJD MLAs to the JDU candidates suggests the emergence of two broader trends in the days to follow. First, the Jitan Manjhi government would now be fully dependent on the RJD. Second, it would have to move in co-ordination with the RJD besides the Congress and the CPI to get legislations, bills and financial demands passed in the Assembly. Today’s results also effectively suggested that Lalu and Nitish — who fought fiercely for 20 years — have no other option than joining hands for their survival.
The BJP leader, Sushil Kumar Modi, said the developments today were the “precursor” of more spells of such unethical camaraderie between Lalu and Nitish.