Oppn paralyses Bihar assembly over Nitish's slight of Speaker
The Opposition in the Bihar Assembly paralysed the proceedings in the House on Tuesday (March 15) by creating a ruckus over the incident in which Chief Minister Nitesh Kumar allegedly insulted Bihar assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha. This protest by Opposition members led to repeated adjournments creating turmoil in the House, said media reports.
Both Sinha and Kumar, who had a public spat in the Assembly on Monday over the status of an inquiry into police misbehaviour at Lakhisarai, were incidentally absent in the House.
While the Speaker remained seated inside his chamber meeting MLAs, the CM was at Maner Sharif, a Sufi shrine on the outskirts of the state capital. When queried about the showdown with the Speaker, the Kumar replied with a cryptic smile.
Meanwhile, the MLAs of RJD, the principal Opposition party, wore black badges as a mark of protest at the slight inflicted on the Chair by the head of the government. They got more upset after seeing senior BJP leader Prem Kumar in the Chair, when the House first assembled at 11 am, and after being adjourned till 2 pm, met for the post-lunch session.
Opposition members trooped into the well, shouting slogans like “Nitish Kumar Murdabad” and “Nitish Kumar Hosh Mein Aao”, forcing the adjournment of proceedings till 4.50 pm.
Earlier, in the pre-lunch session, parliamentary affairs minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary sought to defend the CM, who “acknowledges the importance of the Chair”.
“The CM had some issues with regard to the manner in which the House was being conducted. He had expressed his reservations with utmost humility, with folded hands,” Chaudhary said, opposing the Opposition MLAs’ demand for a “safai” (explanation) from the Chair with regard to Sinha’s absence.
“The members would question the Chair and it will have to answer? This shows their poor understanding of democratic and legislative norms,” Chaudhary remarked before pandemonium broke out in the House forcing adjournment, within minutes of commencement of proceedings.
The House had witnessed an unprecedented outburst from the CM on Monday when the Speaker Sinha raised the issue related to an incident in Lakhisarai, which happens to be his Assembly constituency as well.
Earlier, the Speaker had been vocal about the arrests that were made in a case of prohibition violation in Lakhisarai and the privilege committee had last week recommended action against a couple of police officials who were disrespectful towards Sinha when he broached the matter with them.
Sinha brought up the matter in the House yesterday asking about the status of the inquiry and this angered the CM. Kumar’s contention was that the government was looking into the matter and it was wrong on Sinha’s part to allow the matter to be raised inside the House “again and again”.
Kumar slammed the Speaker in his statement, quivering with rage and stunning the House into silence.
The Speaker, who has previously served under Kumar as a cabinet minister, said he respected the latter’s knowledge of the Constitution and experience but expressed the helplessness he felt in dealing with a recalcitrant bureaucracy.
It is, however, being speculated in political circles that Kumar’s loss of cool stemmed from his frustration over having lost the upper hand to the BJP, which had been a junior alliance partner until the 2020 assembly polls.
With far fewer MLAs than the BJP, Kumar returned as CM for the fourth consecutive term but had to give his ally many concessions, including a higher number of cabinet berths and, importantly, the post of the Speaker.
In the highest seat of power since 2005, Kumar has always succeeded in having one of his confidants, from his own party JD(U), as the Speaker. For his first two terms in office, it was Uday Narayan Chaudhary who has since burnt bridges and moved over to the RJD.
In 2015, when Kumar allied with RJD and returned to power with a few seats less than Lalu Prasad’s party, he still had his way and Vijay Kumar Chaudhary was elected to the post of the speaker.
Vijay Kumar Sinha became the first BJP leader in the state’s history to have occupied the post, a fact the party likes to flaunt often.
The Opposition seems to be fishing in troubled waters. Leaders like Tejashwi Yadav and Chirag Paswan have been targeting the CM for displaying “arrogance” in dealing with the Speaker and demanding an apology.
Pawan Jaiswal, a young BJP MLA, told reporters, “It is the Opposition who want to disrupt the House under one pretext or the other. But the current episode is sending a wrong message. The top leadership of JD(U) and BJP should break the deadlock.”