Revolt in RJD as 13 MLAs split

Revolt in RJD as 13 MLAs split

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad suffered a severe setback for the second consecutive day on Monday, when 13 of his 22 MLAs raised a banner of revolt against the party leadership. They urged Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary to recognise them as a “separate entity”.

It came a day after Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan indicated that he was not averse to desert the UPA for the BJP.

The split was imminent ever since Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar avoided expansion of his ministry, hoping that vacant cabinet berths would be filled by those crossing over from the RJD. The seats had fallen vacant following the BJP and the JD-U split.
On Monday, the plan gradually fructified with three Yadavs and five Muslim MLAs among the 13 rebel RJD legislators appealing to the Speaker that they be either recognised as “unattached” or allowed to merge with the JD-U.

Numbers’ game

The RJD has 22 MLAs in the House. According to the anti-defection law, at least two-thirds of the legislators (15 out of 22) should change sides. But, with two short of the required number, the Speaker, for the time being, recognised them as “a separate block”. Reports suggest that two more RJD MLAs, including leader of the RJD legislature party Abdul Bari Siddiqui, will soon follow suit. This will help the Speaker to either recognise the split or allow a formal merger with the JD-U.

Nitish at present has 116 MLAs in the 243-member House, just six MLAs short of the halfway mark. If the splinter group merges with the JD-U, Nitish will not have to depend on either the four Congress MLAs or the four independents for survival.

Leading the split was RJD’s chief whip in the Assembly Samrat Choudhary. On Sunday, he flew to his constituency Parbatta in Khagaria, along with Nitish, in the chief minister’s helicopter.

Meanwhile, six of the 13 RJD rebels denied leaving the party. “Our signature has been forged,” said “rebel” Lalit Yadav at a press conference here at the party office.

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