Hiccups and reprimands marked the oath-taking ceremony for Bihar’s newly-elected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) on Tuesday. Many legislators fumbled and forgot due procedure, which was not unlikely considering the fact that there are 99 first-timers in the Assembly of 243 members.
The Pro-tem Speaker, senior Congress leader Sadanand Singh, had to remind several members that they had to take the pledge either in the name of “Ishwar” (God) or “Satya Nishtha” (allegiance to truth), not both. Many MLAs, who wanted their oath-taking to be captured for posterity, were seen asking their colleagues to click their pictures.
The Pro-tem Speaker asked the members not to use mobile phones inside the House, and even reprimanded one of them for clicking a photograph of members taking oath. “Since the media is not allowed, we had to use mobile phones,” explained a first-time MLA.
The oath-taking function was delayed by a day as the opening day of the session had to be adjourned because of the death of RLSP MLA Basant Kushwaha. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a member of the Legislative Council, was present during the function.
Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav was the first to take oath. He was followed by elder brother and Health Minister Tej Pratap Yadav, who was followed by senior RJD leader and Finance Minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui and others. The order of seniority that was decided during oath-taking of ministers was maintained.
The Pro-tem Speaker played a “hard taskmaster” as he made several members read their oath correctly.
BJP’s Ramnagar MLA Bhagrirathi Devi had to read the oath four times as she fumbled with the chaste Hindi. An RJD MLA later said: “The fault-finding is even. During the ministers’ swearing in, Tej Pratap had fumbled, now it is Bhagirathi Devi.” This time, though, Tej Pratap was prepared. Neither he nor any other minister fumbled.
BJP MLA Bhagirathi Devi laughed about it later, saying “the pro-tem Speaker proved to be a hard taskmaster”.
It was a special moment for seven-time BJP MLA Prem Kumar, who took oath as MLA in the capacity of Leader of Opposition. Senior JD (U) leader and former minister Bijay Kumar Choudhary will be sworn in as Speaker before the speech of the Governor to members of the Legislative Assembly and Council on December 4.