Patna, Feb 10 (PTI) Nitish Kumar's JD(U) on Sunday exuded confidence that its national president, who was sworn in as Bihar CM for a record ninth time after forming a new government with the BJP, will win Monday's trust vote.
State parliamentary affairs minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, who convened a meeting of the JD(U) legislative party, downplayed the absence of "two or three MLAs," attributing it to "unavoidable circumstances about which they had given prior information." He emphasised that the absentees would be present in the assembly during the floor test.
"We in the NDA have a total strength of 128 MLAs. In the 243-strong assembly, we are comfortably placed. All our MLAs will be present inside the House where a no-confidence motion against the Speaker will precede the trust vote", said Chaudhary.
The senior JD(U) leader evaded a direct reply on the exact number of MLAs who skipped the meet.
"All except two or three were present. Those who did not come had informed the party leadership about the unavoidable circumstances that kept them away. They will, however, be there inside the House tomorrow", claimed Chaudhary.
JD(U) sources requesting anonymity said the three MLAs who were not spotted at the meeting were Sudharshan Kumar Singh, Bima Bharti and Dilip Roy.
The JD(U) has altogether 45 MLAs, excluding the chief minister who is a member of the legislative council.
Chaudhary said, "According to the schedule prepared for tomorrow's proceedings, the House will first take up the no confidence motion against the Speaker. As required under the rules, 38 MLAs will rise in their seats to endorse the motion after which the Speaker will have to make way for his deputy who will conduct the proceedings until a new Speaker is elected".
Notably, Deputy Speaker Maheshwar Hazari belongs to the JD(U) while Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary belongs to the RJD, which has lost power as a result of the latest volte face by Nitish Kumar.
Chaudhary was also questioned about the assertive stance taken by RJD national spokesman Manoj Jha, who earlier in the day emphasized that the party would continue to battle on the Speaker's issue until the end. Jha cited a couple of Supreme Court judgments, stating that removal would require a vote by a majority of the members of the House Chaudhary replied, "We know the rules as well as he (Jha) does. Everything will take place as per the rules".
Political temperature is soaring in the Bihar capital ahead of the trust vote, with all the major players working towards keeping their flock together.
BJP MLAs, who were in Bodh Gaya to attend a two-day workshop, were brought back to the state capital late Sunday evening. The party has 78 MLAs.
Party sources said a couple of MLAs had skipped the two-day workshop, but did not reveal their names.
The NDA also includes four MLAs of Hindustani Awam Morcha headed by former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who has issued a whip amid rumours that he might get tempted by the RJD-helmed Mahagathbandhan which has offered him the Chief Minister's post in exchange for a switch over.
In addition, there is Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh, who is also a minister and had turned up at the JD(U) legislative party meet.
Meanwhile, MLAs of the Congress, who had been stationed in Telangana for a week amid fears of poaching, returned. The party has 19 MLAs, all of whom have reached 5, Deshratna Marg, the bungalow allotted to RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav when he was the Deputy CM.
RJD MLAs, along with their Left allies, have been putting up at Yadav's residence since Saturday night and they are likely to reach the Vidhan Sabha on Monday together in a show of solidarity.
The Mahagathbandhan, which comprises RJD, Congress, CPI(ML) Liberation, CPI and CPI(M) has 114 MLAs.
Besides, there is one member of the AIMIM, headed by Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who has not revealed his cards. PTI PKD NAC MNB