Patna | Bihar assembly Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary, against whom the newly formed NDA government has moved a no-confidence motion, on Wednesday dug in his heels.
The senior RJD leader made it clear that he will not resign before the commencement of the budget session on February 12, when the Nitish Kumar government is also scheduled to seek a trust vote.
However, Deputy Speaker Maheshwar Hazari, who is from the chief minister's JD(U), asserted that Chaudhary would not be allowed to conduct the proceedings of the House in view of the no-confidence motion.
"I am not going to resign. I will be in the assembly on February 12 and conduct proceedings of the House as per rules", Chaudhary told reporters.
It was pointed out to him that according to the BJP-led coalition, which has snatched power from the Congress-RJD combine supported by the Left, a Speaker cannot be in the Chair with a no-confidence motion pending.
He replied, "As per rules, the Speaker should take a decision within 14 days of the receipt of notice for a no-confidence motion. The same has been received by me only today".
However, when approached by journalists with queries about the crisis, Hazari, the Deputy Speaker, said, "In view of the change of guard in the state, the Speaker should have given up the post. He will have to go. His posturing seems to have followed instructions from his party leadership".
"But, he will have to abide by rules. The proceedings, till his removal, will be carried out with the Deputy Speaker in Chair," asserted Hazari.
The Deputy Speaker also pointed out, "It has always been a tradition in Bihar that the Speaker is chosen by the ruling side. After a majority of MLAs moved a no-confidence motion against him (Chaudhary), he should have voluntarily stepped down. The post of the Speaker is an exalted one. He should have acted keeping it in mind."
Incidentally, BJP leader Vijay Kumar Sinha had similarly refused to resign in 2022, when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had quit the NDA and formed a new government with the Mahagathbandhan.
Later, Sinha had announced his resignation on the floor of the House, avoiding the no-confidence vote.
Sinha is now the Deputy CM in the new NDA government.
BJP leaders and former ministers Nand Kishor Yadav and Amarendra Pratap Singh are now said to be in the race for the Speaker's job.
Hazari was also asked about apprehensions that Chaudhary could pull a fast one on the NDA if he remained in the chair.
The Deputy Speaker replied, "This is a government formed after a letter of support from more than half of the MLAs was submitted before the Governor. The formation, which is in power in the state, also rules the Centre. There is no scope for defection. Though some may like to day-dream".