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Stage set for trust vote of Nitish govt in Bihar on Monday

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JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar speaks with the media after submitting his resignation as Bihar chief minister to Governor Rajendra Arlekar, outside Raj Bhavan, in Patna

Nitish Kumar (File photo)

Patna: The NDA government in Bihar, formed as a result of JD(U) president Nitish Kumar’s latest volte face, will on Monday seek trust vote in the assembly where the numbers are stacked in its favour, but the opposition snaps at its heels.

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The inaugural day of the budget session will commence with the Governor’s customary address to members of the bicameral legislature after which the assembly will take up the no-confidence motion against Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary before the trust vote.

Chaudhary, who belongs to RJD, the largest constituent of the 'Mahagathbandhan' which Kumar quit a fortnight ago, has made it clear that he will not step down despite the motion moved by legislators of the NDA soon after the new government was formed.

The NDA, which includes JD(U), BJP, former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha and an Independent, has a combined strength of 128 MLAs in the 243-strong assembly, six more than the majority mark.

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The absence of a few MLAs at the JD(U) legislative party meeting on Sunday and a couple of legislators at the BJP’s two-day training workshop in Bodh Gaya, has provided cannon fodder to the 'Mahagathbandhan' which has been claiming that the NDA will fall short of 122 votes it must garner in order to remove the Speaker.

However, both JD(U) and the BJP have dismissed such misgivings, claiming all legislators will be present inside the House. However, leaving nothing to chance, the JD(U) put up many of its MLAs, after the legislative party meeting, at a city hotel.

Likewise, many BJP MLAs, upon return from the workshop, were asked to stay back at the residence of Vijay Kumar Sinha, who has taken over as a deputy chief minister.

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The 'Mahagathbandhan' has a combined strength of 114 MLAs, eight short of the majority mark, but claims that while all its legislators were firmly intact, quite a few in the NDA camp were unhappy over the sudden change of tack by JD(U) and BJP and might turn the tables on the new government.

In a show of solidarity, notwithstanding the sudden loss of power, a number of legislators belonging to the 'Mahagathbandhan', which comprises RJD, Congress, CPI(ML), CPI and CPI(M), have been staying at the residence of the coalition’s leader Tejashwi Yadav, who lost the deputy CM’s post as a result of Kumar’s abrupt parting of ways.

Meanwhile, state BJP president Samrat Choudhary, who is also a deputy CM, has warned of “stern action” against any attempts at horse trading.

Nitish Kumar, who has been sworn in as the chief minister for a record ninth term, has also been closely monitoring the situation within the JD(U), having attended the legislative party meeting as also a luncheon held a day earlier which was seen as a warm-up exercise ahead of the crucial trust vote.

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