PATNA: Ahead of Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's floor test, Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary today granted the status of principal opposition party to JD(U) in place of BJP, which slammed the move as "arbitrary".
The Speaker granted JD(U) leader Vijay Chaudhary the status of leader of opposition in place of BJP's Nand Kishore Yadav.
"Assembly Secretariat has to act according to numerical strength and since JD(U) had sought the status of main opposition, we had no reason to deny them this considering their numbers," Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary told PTI.
Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi after being expelled by party President Sharad Yadav has been declared as unattached member in the Legislative Assembly. He has to prove his majority in the House tomorrow.
JD(U) would also be given status of main opposition in the Legislative Council.
"On the basis of numerical strength, we have no option but to recognise JD(U) as main opposition party in the Legislative Council," Chairman of Council Awdesh Narayan Singh told PTI.
Meanwhile, a furious BJP sat on dharna in front of Assembly entrance to protest the Speaker's "arbitrary" decision.
"This is for the first time in the country that a party--JD(U)-- will sit in both treasury and opposition sides," Nan Kishore Yadav said.
He contended that BJP was inclined to support Manjhi on issues but this did not mean it was joining Manjhi government.
"Even Nitish Kumar being in NDA had supported Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential election while other constituents had voted for P A Sangma. So giving issue-based support does not mean a party joining a government," Yadav argued.
JD(U) Legislature Party leader Vijay Chaudhary had yesterday during an all party meeting urged the Speaker to allow it to sit in opposition gallery as it has decided to oppose trust vote to be sought by Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi tomorrow.
"Assembly is run by rules and laws and not anybody's whims...on the basis of 'sankhya bal' (numerical strength) there was no reason to deny JD(U) request to grant it status of principal opposition party," the Speaker said.
Accordingly, JD(U) has been given status of principal Opposition party and its leader Vijay Chaudhary has been recognised as leader of opposition in the House, the Speaker said.
In the 243-member Bihar Assembly whose effective strength at present is 233, JD(U) has 110 MLAs including Speaker,
one unattached member in Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, BJP 87, RJD 24, Congress 5, CPI 1, Independent 5 while 10 seats are vacant.
Asked about sitting arrangements for BJP in the House, the Speaker said it would be decided later on.
The Speaker said that Manjhi will sit on the first seat as he is the chief minister.
His seven ministers, who have been suspended by JD(U), who are still member of the party and binded by whip, would be allocated seat in JD(U) gallery, he said.
Asked if he has decided which option to use among lobby division and secret ballot for tomorrow's trust vote as instructed by Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, the Speaker said "it will be announced only at the time of voting".
In the Upper House of Bihar Legislature where Nitish Kumar is also a member at present, JD(U) would be recognised as principal Opposition party in place of BJP.
In the 75-member Bihar Legislative Council, JD(U) has 41 members, BJP 16, RJD 5, Congress 4, CPI 2 and Independent 7.
Meanwhile, BJP whose leader Nand Kishore Yadav had yesterday walked out of all-party meeting sat on dharna in front of Assembly entrance.
Some BJP members were seen locked in angry exchange of words with Assembly staff.
Nand Kishore Yadav told reporters the Speaker has acted in an "arbitrary" manner in recognising JD(U) as main opposition.