Horse trading attempts will invite stern action: Bihar Deputy CM ahead of trust vote

PATNA: Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Samrat Choudhary on Tuesday asserted that the newly formed NDA government will sail through the trust vote slated for next week and warned the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan of “stern action” if horse trading was attempted.Choudhary, who also heads the BJP’s state unit, spoke to PTI here upon returning from Delhi, where in the last couple of days, he called on top leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.”The BJP’s relationship with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has matured over the past few decades, with a few bittersweet experiences in between. The synergy will be on display during the trust vote which we are bound to win,” said Choudhary.The government which was formed on January 28 is scheduled to seek vote of confidence on February 12, the inaugural day of the budget session.Mahagathbandhan leaders, who are sore over the sudden loss of power caused by the JD(U) supremo’s volte-face, have been claiming that the day might see some upset with RJD leader Awadh Bihari Chaudhary still occupying the Speaker’s chair.However, the Deputy CM said, “It is only a matter of time before the Speaker, against whom all NDA MLAs have moved a no-confidence motion, is replaced. Either he will resign or face the ignominy of being voted out in the House where a majority of members do not have faith in him”.The NDA, which also enjoys the support of former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s four-MLA-strong HAM and an Independent, has a combined strength of 128 in the assembly which has 243 members.The Mahagathbandhan, which includes Congress and three Left parties besides RJD, has 114 members, eight short of majority.Besides, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM has one MLA and though the party has not revealed its cards, it has been accusing the RJD of having poached four of its MLAs a couple of years ago.Choudhary, however, made it clear that the government would take “stern action” if attempts were made to destabilise the government through horse trading.”RJD supremo Lalu Prasad should know I am well aware of his party’s own vulnerability to a split, though the BJP does not believe in such tactics,” said Choudhary, who started his political career in the RJD, and had led its rebel faction in 2014 before quitting the party.He also made light of Manjhi’s antics regarding dissatisfaction with getting only one cabinet berth and the HAM founder’s son Santosh Suman getting SC and ST Welfare portfolio instead of a meatier assignment.”Manjhi knows it well that it is an alliance with the BJP that is electorally viable for HAM. He will gain nothing by aligning with the RJD. The opposition camp is hoping against hope as it is not sure if it will be able to keep its flock together. A reason why it is transporting its people out of the state,” Choudhary said.He was referring to the shifting of Congress MLAs to Hyderabad ahead of the trust vote.The BJP leader, however, made it clear that in the upcoming biennial polls to Rajya Sabha, the party will claim a lion’s share in view of its increased strength in the assembly.”The NDA will field three candidates out of whom two will be from BJP and one from JD(U)”, said Choudhary.Six seats are falling vacant in Bihar out of which two each were held by JD(U) and RJD.The BJP, which was a junior partner in NDA until the 2020 assembly polls, and the Congress held one seat each.Choudhary was also asked about rumours that the chief minister has been wanting simultaneous polls for the Lok Sabha and Bihar assembly, the term of which is going to expire after more than a year.”If the CM comes up with a proposal for early polls, the BJP will welcome it. We are a party that is always battle-ready. But it is going to be his call,” said the deputy CM.

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