Drama ahead of floor test in Bihar, Opposition shepherded to Tejashwi’s house

The Opposition lawmakers were not even allowed to make or take phone calls and were asked to stay on at Tejashwi’s house till the floor test was through.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav leaves after an alliance meeting in Patna on Saturday.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav leaves after an alliance meeting in Patna on Saturday.PTI

PATNA: The air in Patna was loaded with intrigue on Saturday ahead of the floor test in the legislative assembly on Monday — necessitated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar jumping ship from the grand alliance and joining the NDA.

On a day when five JD(U) legislators failed to show up at a luncheon hosted by a senior minister, the RJD shepherded all Opposition MLAs to former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav’s official residence. It was reminiscent of resort politics to avoid horse-trading.

The Opposition lawmakers were not even allowed to make or take phone calls, and were asked to stay on at Tejashwi’s house till the floor test is through.

As for the JD(U), it issued a whip to all its MLAs to take part in the floor test. Minister Shrawan Kumar, who is also the JD (U)’s chief whip, warned that those defying the whip would lose their membership. Curiously, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar spent just 15 minutes at Shrawan Kumar’s residence where the lunch was hosted.

JD (U) has 45 MLAs in the assembly. Five of them — Sanjeev, Bima Bharti, Shalini Mishra, Sudarshan and Dilip Rai — gave the lunch a miss. But they assured senior party leaders on the phone that they would participate in the legislature party meeting at the house of state education minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary on Sunday.

In the Opposition camp, arrangements for the recreation of all legislators have been made at Tejashwi’s house during their stay there. Artists with musical instruments were seen entering the residence late in the evening. RJD leaders have been deployed in strength to take care of the MLAs and MLCs. The personal staff of the legislators brought in suitcases full of clothes to make the stay of the MLAs comfortable.

The decision to keep the lawmakers together was made after a meeting of the Opposition alliance’s legislature party in the presence of RJD chief Lalu Yadav. In all, 77 RJD, 12 CPI(M-L), 2 CPI and 2 CPM MLAs participated in the meeting.

Didn’t start it, but will finish the game: RJD

RJD MP Manoj Jha said legislators of the RJD and other constituents of the grand alliance expressed their willingness to stay together for the next 48 hours. “All legislators are staying together, entertaining themselves and discussing politics. We had not started the game, but we will finish it,” he remarked, referring to Nitish’s defection. BJP leader Nikhil Anand claimed that a few MLAs of the RJD were uncomfortable, so the party is making all its legislators hostage.

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