Debating India

BIHAR

Paswan faces revolt

Sunday 22 May 2005, by BALCHAND*K.

Party secretary-general quits, MLAs taken away to Jharkhand

PATNA: The Lok Jan Shakti Party of Union Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is in a crisis with a section of its newly elected MLAs in Bihar raising the banner of revolt. This has given rise to fresh political churning for government formation, which remained elusive for almost three months thanks to a fractured verdict.

In New Delhi, Governor Buta Singh met Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and discussed the latest developments.

The problem for the LJP with 29 MLAs cropped up on Saturday with its secretary-general Nagmani resigning his post and party membership in protest against Mr. Paswan’s "inflexible attitude" to government formation. He said the legislators were "disillusioned" with Mr. Paswan’s failure to install a non-Rashtriya Janata Dal Government.

A former Minister in the National Democratic Alliance Government, Mr. Nagmani announced his resignation amid speculation that over a dozen LJP MLAs had been taken away to Jamshedpur and some others to Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, where the BJP is in the saddle. Reports suggest the possibility of their being shifted to Rajasthan.

It is also claimed that at least three of the MLAs, now behind bars, are favouring a government under Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar.

Less than a fortnight ago Mr. Paswan came out with a failed formula, suggesting a Congress Chief Minister from the minority community. He had sought time to implement the formula to overcome dissensions in the LJP, with the legislators divided in their support to the JD (U) and the RJD.

Mr. Nagmani and 18 other legislators favour a government under Mr. Nitish Kumar, who recently gave up his move charging that Mr. Paswan had "ditched him." The LJP’s support is crucial for government formation with neither the NDA nor the RJD-led combine being able to mobilise the required number of 122 MLAs for forming a stable government as desired by the Governor.

The LJP called off its legislature party meeting here on Saturday with most MLAs staying away. The party chief has convened a meeting in Delhi. One of his staunch supporters, Suraj Bhan Singh, MP, along with some legislators close to him, left for Delhi. Senior LJP leaders claimed that at least seven of their legislators had been kept "hostage" by the JD (U) and that there was a "conspiracy to split the party." They urged President Abdul Kalam to take action against those indulging in horse-trading.

The BJP leaders have accused the Governor of trying to break the NDA and assisting the United Progressive Alliance in government formation.

The JD(U), with 55 MLAs, is counting on the support of the BJP, which has 37 members. It also received the support of all 17 Independents when Mr. Nitish Kumar made the move to form a government six weeks ago.

The RJD too gave up its effort to form a government under Rabri Devi.

The RJD has 75 MLAs and received the support of the Congress (10), the NCP (3), the BSP (3) and the CPI-M (1).

The CPI-ML (7) sought to remain neutral, while the CPI (3) also took a detached view. The Samajwadi Party (4) sought to support Mr. Nitish Kumar in case a non-BJP Government was put in office.

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