Vijay Kumar Sinha, the NDA candidate for the Speaker’s post in the Bihar Assembly, sailed through today after a united opposition forced elections for the post after a gap of 51 years. A senior leader of the state BJP, Mr Sinha was declared elected by Pro-Tem Speaker Jitan Ram Manjhi, who told the House that the NDA candidate got 126 votes against the 114 polled by Awadh Bihari Chaudhary, who was fielded by the opposition Grand Alliance.
The election took place amid chaos after the opposition demands that it be conducted by secret ballot and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar others who were not members of the lower house of the assembly, leave.
The demands were turned down by the Chair, setting off vociferous protests by the opposition during which the house had to be adjourned.
Initially, when the election was done by a voice vote and the Pro-Tem Speaker said that Mr Sinha had got majority, the opposition was furious.
Grand Alliance’s Tejashwi Yadav demanded that proceedings be held “in accordance with democratic norms, keeping in mind the fact that the Chair belongs to the House, not to the government or the opposition”.
The Pro-Tem Speaker then called for a head count, asking the members to stand in favour of their preferred candidate.
During the customary march to the Chair, Vijay Sinha was led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Tejaswi Yadav.
Earlier senior BJP leader Sushil Modi tweeted alleging that jailed Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav, was trying to influence the outcome of the elections. An alleged video was doing the rounds, he said, that showed the RJD chief asking a BJP member to abstain from voting.
BJP MLA Lalan Paswan said in the House “He (Lalu Yadav) called and asked me not to turn up for the voting”.
The RJD member Bhai Virendra opposed, saying, “This is wrong and there are lot of people who can imitate Lalu-ji’s voice”.
In the previous 16 assemblies elected in Bihar, Speaker has been chosen in a contest only twice. The first time was in 1967, when the state saw its first non-Congress government, and two years later, when a new assembly was formed after mid-term polls.