| Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. Telegraph picture |
Patna, June 26: The month-long budget session starting tomorrow would be the acid test for the ruling JDU because of the voices of dissent within the party and outside.
The party would not only have to cope with its 18 dissident MLAs in the House. There are voices of dissent in the RJD and the Congress — the parties supporting the JDU —as both witnessed cross-voting during the recent Rajya Sabha bypolls. “It would be embarrassing for the ruling party if its own members disrupt the government’s functioning,” said a senior JDU leader.
The party sailed through the confidence motion moved by chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi soon after taking charge in May with the support of 117 of its MLAs apart from those of the RJD, Congress and the CPI. But a month on, things have changed drastically. If the Rajya Sabha voting is any indication, the JDU has the support of only 99 of its MLAs, and altogether 123 at the most with the support of all its allies. The budget would be tabled in the House on July 1.
The JDU does not foresee any problem in getting its bills passed, especially after the improved relationship between the RJD and the JDU following the Rajya Sabha bypolls. “Even in the Rajya Sabha by-elections, we were ahead of BJP and the dissidents by at least 14 votes. Moreover, the rebels would not like to lose their membership by voting against the government. Besides, Narendra Modi has lost his sheen and we can counter the BJP with the railway fare hike and the rise in prices of sugar and onion,” said a JDU minister.
The party is also keeping its fingers crossed hoping that the numbers would increase in their favour inside the Assembly because the anti-defection laws would be in force.
The JDU dissidents declared that their role would be that of any other MLA of the party. Realising that they would be within the ambit of the anti-defection law inside the Assembly if they voted against the bills moved by the treasury, they made it clear that they would not destabilise the government. They insisted that their fight was just for internal democracy within the JDU and not the ouster of the government.
The BJP, however, is all set to go all out against the Manjhi government. “That the JDU will face a rough time because of its own members. We shall also go all out on issues related to distribution of ration cards, deteriorating law and order situation, power crisis, encephalitis in Muzaffarpur and Gaya, and several other issues,” said the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav, holding former chief minister Nitish Kumar responsible for the “fragile” situation because he “betrayed” the mandate of the 2010 Assembly polls.
The BJP leader, Sushil Kumar Modi, had stated that the Jitan Ram Manjhi-led regime was a minority government and though the RJD had announced its support it had not submitted a letter to the governor in this regard. The BJP is likely to push the matter inside the House also.