With the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance doing well in Bihar, winning Wednesday’s confidence vote seems to be a mere formality for the Nitish Kumar government.
Kumar, who was sworn in as Chief Minister of Bihar for the fourth time on February 22, had been directed by Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi to seek a trust vote on March 11.
The JD-U has issued a whip to all its 110 members in the Assembly, excluding Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary, to vote for the trust motion, Parliamentary Affairs minister and JD(U) Chief Whip Shrawan Kumar told PTI today.
Kumar said as per provisions of the 10th schedule of the Constitution which is related to anti-defection laws, a whip has also been issued to outgoing CM Jitan Ram Manjhi and a handful of other dissidents siding with him.
“Manjhi has been declared an unattached member but his membership of the party has not yet been terminated, hence as per provisions of anti-defection law he has to obey the whip or invite disqualification,” Kumar, a close confidante of the CM, said.
Asked if Manjhi and other rebel JD(U) MLAs decide to “absent” themselves during voting, Kumar said even that would be considered violation of whip and action would be taken.
Nitish Kumar is all set to draw support from RJD and Congress which have stood with him throughout the political turmoil triggered by Manjhi’s rebellion.
RJD Chief Whip and Maner MLA Bhai Virendra said, “We have decided to support Nitish Kumar and JD-U during the trust vote. Our 24 MLAs are united. A whip will be issued to all of them in the evening, asking them to support the confidence motion.”
Congress Legispature Party (CLP) leader Sadanand Singh said the five MLAs belonging to his party will be with Kumar during the floor test and added, “We have already issued a whip to all our MLAs to support Kumar”.
Though the BJP having 87 MLAs said it would decide its strategy during its legislature party meeting in the evening, indications are that it would abstain from voting, aware of the inevitable outcome.
The Bihar Assembly at present has an effective strength of 233 with 10 vacancies. The magic figure is 117. With 110 JD(U) members, 24 RJD, 5 Congress, 1 CPI and some Independents among five, Nitish Kumar seems confident of sailing through.