Bihar Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary today defended the decision of recognising 13 RJD MLAs as a separate group in the Assembly saying it was not taken in haste as alleged by the party.
"The interim decision to recognise 13 RJD MLAs as a separate group is lawful, taken after thorough study of parliamentary provisions and not in haste...If somebody is not satisfied he or she is free to challenge it before any constitutional body," Choudhary told reporters at his residence.
"I took 10 days to satisfy myself through different means on the application bearing signature of 13 MLAs to either merge them with JD(U) or recognise them as a separate group.
"I wanted to take more time but members who signed the letter urged me to decide on their plea and accordingly I directed the assembly secretariat to issue a notification recognising them as a separate group as per interim arrangements on February 24 evening," he said.
Asked if all the 13 MLAs, whose signatures were in the letter, had appeared before him or he had talks with them before taking a decision, Choudhary said in parliamentary arrangements, dialogue was held with the chief whip or legislature party leader of the party concerned.
Choudhary said since 9 of the 13 MLAs gave separate letters subsequently he would study them and give a ruling accordingly.
He, however, did not give any time-line for giving a final decision.
Asked about the fate of the 13 MLAs till then, the Speaker said "You will see it when the house sits for the next session."
In an apparent dig at RJD President Lalu Prasad who led a procession of his party with nine MLAs to the Assembly during which stones were thrown at his house, Choudhary said it was an attack on the constitutional chair and not a person.
"They want to frighten me by doing such mischief to rescind the decision...But can a constitutional chair be forced to change a lawful decision?" Choudhary said, adding that it was up to the state government to take action.
About his absence from his office in the Assembly when Prasad went there yesterday with nine RJD MLAs, Choudhary said "I did not run away, but had a prior appointment with an MP of Bhutan. How can a Constitutional chair run away?" he asked.
"The apprehension expressed by Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar during drafting of Constitution has been proved true by yesterday's attack on my home," the speaker said.
"Since I am the first speaker in the state to hail a from mahadalit (poor dalit) background, I am being called a toy (in the hands of the chief minister) and brick-bats are thrown at my home under his leadership," he said without naming Prasad.
He also denied Prasad's accusation that he took a hardcore naxal Murari Yadav as an aide to Japan at official expense.
"Bina sur pair ke arrop hai (the allegations are baseless)," he said.
"Jo man me aya bol diye (say anything that comes to the mind)," he said.
"For voicing rights of dalits, poor and weaker sections I am being called a murderer and a naxalite... but I cannot be shaken by these and will continue to take lawful decisions," he added.
The Speaker also expressed fear that he could be killed and his family members attacked for taking a a constitutional decision.
Meanwhile, RJD legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddique said "a person occupying a constitutional post is known and respected for his position and not caste or religion from which such a person hails from."
These principle applies to the Speaker too and he should not have taken refuge behind his Mahadalit background amid criticism of his action to split the RJD by giving recognition to its 13 MLAs as a separate group in the Assembly two days ago, he said.