A singer and a former policeman,each as popular as the other,are among the six independent MLAs whose votes the JD(U) government is looking to gain when it tests its strength in the Bihar assembly on Wednesday. Others among the six include two former BJP men and a woman who plunged into politics after a criminal case had left her MLA husband ineligible for elections.
The cutoff is 122 and the JD(U) has 118 including the speaker. The house of 243,however,includes four Congress MLAs who could tilt the equation in the JD(U)s favour if they decide to abstain.
Four of the six independent MLAs have pledged their support to the government and met JD(U) leaders Monday. One has ruled out his support; the sixth has not yet declared which way she will go. The men and woman who will decide the governments fate:
VINAY BIHARI,from Lauria in West Champaran,is a Bhojpuri singer who owes his assembly seat to the popularity of his songs. Among the best known is one on bifurcation that translates as,You have had your nutritious diet,now get ready to eat sweet potato as mines-rich Jharkhand has separated from Bihar. Bihari,a resident of Durgapatti in Bettiah,lost two elections before winning the third time in spite of an NDA sweep elsewhere. I am willing to support the JD(U) government,but I would like it to push for inclusion of Bhojpuri in the Eighth Schedule, he says. His wife Chanchala is vice president of the Bettiah zilla parishad.
PAWAN KUMAR JAISWAL,MLA from Dhaka in Sheohar,comes from family of farmers. He began in local politics and became chairman of the Motihari district board before being elected MLA for the first time in 2010. Jaiswal too has also pledged his support to the JD(U) government,saying he has not set any condition for that.
SOM PRAKASH SINGH,MLA from Obra in Aurangabad,is a former police sub-inspector with a strong support base. At Obra,he won over the public by arresting a bus driver,said to be politically connected,for rash driving and presented him before a court,reportedly against the wishes of the then Aurangabad SP. The sub-inspector also went out of his way to organise free bus services for needy schoolgirls of Obra. A resident of Dehri in Rohtas,he quit the police job to join politics and remains popular as ever. Willing to support the JD(U),he fancies his chances of becoming a minister,possibly for the department in which he once served.
DULAL CHANDRA GOSWAMI,MLA from Bairampur in Katihar,finds himself being called upon to spoil the designs of a party he once belonged to. He had been with the BJP until the last assembly elections,when he rebelled after being denied a ticket. The independent MLA has said he is willing to extend unconditional support to the JD(U) because he wants the government to complete its full term.
JYOTI RASHMI,MLA from Dehri in Rohtas,was pitchforked into politics in the last elections after her husband Pradeep Kumar Joshi,till then MLA,was ruled ineligible to contest because he had been named in a mining case. Rashmi and her husband continue to enjoy immense clout with their money and muscle power,and were recently in a showdown with the government when it did not invite them to a function in Dehri. She has also been critical of the government allowing opening of country liquor shops in villages. She has not yet declared whether she will support the government,and is reportedly undecided about it.
DILIP VERMA,MLA from Sikta in West Champaran,is a veteran in his fifth term. Scion of the Shikarpur Estate,he was once with the BJP. He told TV channels two days ago that he was being offered a ministerial berth but ruled out his support,saying he remains a fan of Narendra Modi even though he is no longer in the BJP.