PATNA: Two Muslim legislators on Monday scored talking points in the Bihar Assembly during the oath being administered by pro tem Speaker Jitan Ram Manjhi to the newly elected MLAs.
AIMIM MLA Akhtarul Imam reportedly refused to read the word ‘Hindustan’, insisting on ‘Bharat’.
On the other hand, Congress’ Shakeel Ahmad Khan took oath in Sanskrit, earning him all-round applause.
Monday marked the first day of the five-day session of Bihar’s 17th Assembly after the recently concluded polls.
Akhtarul Imam, the Kishanganj’s Amour MLA, reportedly refused to read the word ‘Hindustan’, written in his oath paper in Urdu and insisted to replace it by ‘Bharat’. Imam sought Manjhi’s permission to speak the word ‘Bharat’.
A surprised Manjhi tried him to reason out with him, saying it was a tradition. But the MLA remained adamant and took the oath in the name of ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘Hindustan’.
It drew a strong reaction from NDA MLAs. Niraj Singh Bablu, BJP MLA from Chhatapur in Supual, said: “Those who don’t like Hindustan should better go to Pakistan.”
Amid the controversy, Imam clarified that he did not object to the word ‘Hindustan’, he rather “wanted to know why the word was written in Urdu while in other oath papers, it was mentioned as Bharat”.
He also tried to calm down tempers by reciting Sare jahan se achha Hindustan hamara.
Hardly did the Imam episode die down when Katihar’s Kadwa Congress MLA Shakeel Ahmad Khan surprised everyone while taking oath in Sanskrit.
When the MLA completed his oath, the entire House applauded him and many BJP MLAs were seen hugging him.
“I believe that the development of society is not possible with conservative thought. Therefore, we should promote love and brotherhood,” Khan said.
Tejashwi gives jobs ultimatum to Nitish
Leader of Opposition and RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav on Monday, after taking oath in the Assembly, threatened to launch a state-wide agitation if Nitish Kumar-led NDA government fails to provide 19 lakhs jobs in the next one month.
Tejashwi said he won’t let his voters down who voted for the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan with a hope of change and getting employment.
“If the government doesn’t provide 19 lakh jobs within a month as per their promise, there will be a massive agitation from fields to roads across the state,” he said.
Yadav, who is expected to retain the post of leader of the opposition, expressed dissatisfaction over the resignation of JD(U) MLA Mewa Lal Chaudhary from the post of education minister and demanded a statement from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the same.
"The buck stops with the Chief Minister Hence he must come forward and explain to the people of Bihar under what circumstances did he appoint Mewa Lal Chaudhary despite his tainted background.
"He also owes an explanation with regard to handing over the education portfolio to another person involved in a serious corruption case", the 31-year-old told reporters outside the Vidhan Sabha premises on a day when the inaugural session of the newly constituted assembly began.
Chaudhary had stepped down last week, barely a couple of days after being sworn in, as a massive controversy erupted over his being named in a case relating to alleged irregular recruitments at an agriculture university while he was its Vice Chancellor.
The additional charge of education has been handed over to Ashok Choudhary, the working president of state unit of JD(U) headed by the Chief Minister.
The RJD has been targeting Choudhary, who had served as a minister in the government headed by Yadavs mother Rabri Devi from the Congress quota, over an old case involving his wife who had been accused of defrauding a bank for seeking loan.
Choudhary has, however, dismissed the controversy as "not a big deal" pointing out that after the CBI launched an investigation into the case,they moved the High Court which ruled in their favour.
The CBI challenged the order before the Supreme Court which suspended the High Court judgement hearing the matter ex parte.
"We will move the Supreme Court and seek appropriate remedy", Choudhary added.
Yadav was also asked about the counter-attack from the NDA which has sought to put the RJD leader on the dock over a money laundering case.
"I was the Deputy CM, handling important ministries, for over a year. Can anybody point to a single irregularity during the period which can be blamed on me? The money laundering case is an instance of political vendetta, seeking to accuse me of having indulged in corruption at a time when I was a nobody", Yadav remarked dismissively.
"Sushil Kumar Modi had carried out a sustained campaign. Could he prove anything"? he asked referring to the former Deputy CM, who has been a strident critic of Yadavs father and RJD founding president Lalu Prasad and the family that controls the party.
Yadav also sought to remind the BJP of the promise of 19 lakh jobs made in the partys election manifesto released here by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the heat of assembly polls.
"The NDA has one month to show something on the ground. If it fails, we have the support of more than one crore people who voted for our party in the elections and we will hit the streets", he said.
"The NDA may have stealthily achieved power, as is its wont, but it must not forget we are the single largest party and the Chief Minister heads the party which is a distant third in terms of strength in the assembly", Yadav said.
The RJD leader has been alleging that the election results were "manipulated" by pliant officials posted in areas where there was a close fight which explained the fact that NDA got over a dozen seats more than the five-party Grand Alliance though the difference in votes polled by the two formations, across the 243 assembly segments, was just about 12,000 votes.
This, the RJD leader has contended, was comparable to "hijacking of mandate" in 2017 when Nitish Kumar abruptly left the RJD-Congress combine and formed a new government with the BJP which he had fought tooth and nail in the assembly polls two years earlier.
(With PTI Inputs)