Striking a defiant note, Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha on Tuesday declared that he will not step down in the wake of a no-confidence motion moved by MLAs of the ruling Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance).
Sinha, a senior BJP leader, made the averment inside the Assembly premises, less than 24 hours before the House will hold a special session in which the seven-party coalition will prove its majority.
“I view the no-confidence motion as springing from a lack of trust, not in me, but the Chair itself. The notice of the motion received at the Vidhan Sabha secretariat has done away with rules, regulations and parliamentary niceties,” he read from a written statement before a posse of journalists.
“Bound by the Chair, I feel it is incumbent upon me to reject such a notice. Some baseless and personal allegations have been made in the notice against me. My style of functioning has been called undemocratic and dictatorial,” he said.
The Speaker asserted that if he resigns, faced with those “baseless charges”, it will not only hurt his self-respect but also be tantamount to remaining a “mute spectator to the assault on the parliamentary system”.
“Thus, I will oppose the no-confidence motion and not resign. I will say what I have to say inside the House without any fear or conflict,” said Sinha.
As per his penchant for poetry, he signed off with a verse in Hindi, a rough translation of which says: “Everything is at stake, but I cannot stop. I may be caused to break, but not bend”.
The ruling dispensation, comprising Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), RJD, Congress and the Left, was aghast.
“It would have been better had he resigned in deference to parliamentary norms. He will suffer an ignominious removal if he does not resign. Once members of the House have said they do not have trust in him, it makes no sense for him to dig in his heels,” minister and JD(U) leader Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, who had preceded Sinha as the Speaker, told PTI.
The views were echoed by Maheshwar Hazari, a fellow JD(U) leader who is currently the Deputy Speaker, who said Sinha’s “obstinacy” went against principles of morality and was most unfortunate.
“Neither the Speaker nor the Deputy Speaker can continue in the Chair once members express their lack of trust. The rejection of the notice makes no sense. Political power is all about numbers. The numbers are against him”, said Hazari, who is expected to retain his job.
RJD spokesperson Shakti Yadav reacted to the development saying: "The Speaker indeed is undemocratic and dictatorial. He seems to think he is above the Constitution".
"Sinha should not tie himself into knots but make a graceful exit," Congress spokesperson Rajesh Rathore said.
The Mahagathbandhan is understood to have agreed upon the name of veteran RJD leader Awadh Bihari Chaudhary as the new Speaker.
The upcoming session is also likely to witness the replacement of Acting Chairman of the Legislative Council Awadhesh Narain Singh, who is also from the BJP, with JD(U)’s Devesh Chandra Thakur.
The BJP, which stands stripped of power in the aftermath of the seismic political events in the state, is understood to have chosen former minister Samrat Chaudhary as the leader of the opposition in the Upper House.
The party is yet to decide the same for the Assembly though names of Sinha and former Deputy CM Tarkishore Prasad are doing the rounds.