Demands for a coordination committee are back from smaller allies in Bihar’s less than two-month-old Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance (GA) government comprising Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (United), Congress, CPI, CPI(ML), and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular).
Leaders of the Congress, CPI, CPI (ML), and HAM(S) have reiterated their demand for setting up a coordination committee for “smooth functioning of the government”.
The triggers seem to be the “corruption” cries of RJD legislator Sudhakar Singh on his way out as Agriculture Minister, resignation of Law Minister Kartik Kumar over a pending arrest warrant, and Women Development Corporation CMD Harjot Kaur Bamhrah’s out-of-place response to a girl’s query on non-availability of sanitary pads in schools.
The Grand Alliance has 164 MLAs in the 243-member House. The RJD with 79 seats is the biggest GA constituent, JD(U) has 45 legislators, Congress has 19, CPI(ML) 12, CPI four, HAM(S) four, and one Independent.
All these smaller parties had met CM Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav soon after formation of the government in August with demands for a coordination committee and the two leaders had agreed to it.
CPI (ML) state secretary said: “So many things since formation of the government. Kartik Kumar had to resign following a pending arrest warrant and Sudhakar Singh resigned recently alleging corruption and irregularities in his department. Women Development Corporation CMD made a ‘insensitive and irresponsible’ statement over demand for sanitary pads by a school girl. This is why we need coordination committee at the earliest.”
The CPI (ML) leader added: “We are also concerned with the poor people’s houses being demolished in name of clearing encroachments or some other reason. There had been displacement of the poor during the previous regime and things have not changed. We need to talk to the government at regular intervals to give our feedback. If there is a coordination committee, we will be able to give our feedback that can ensure smooth functioning of the government.”
Smaller parties are wary of the power tussle between the JD(U) and the RJD. They are also apprehensive about internal bickering in RJD, especially in the wake of Sudhakar Singh’s resignation and the “displeasure” of his father, RJD state chief Jagdanand Singh, with top party leaders. Meanwhile, Tejashwi says he is in “no hurry” to become CM while Nitish is keeping all guessing on the timing of calling it quits.
Bihar Congress working president Kaukab Quadri said there was need for a coordination committee at two levels — to monitor overall functioning of the government, and also review works done by the two Congress ministers. “We have got Panchayati Raj and Animal Husbandry; and Fisheries departments, through which we can reach out to a large number of electorates. Panchayati Raj system was the dream project of former PM late Rajiv Gandhi. We have discussed it during our meeting and the party is in favour of a coordination committee comprising representatives from all alliance constituents at the earliest,” he said.
HAM(S) spokesperson Danish Rizwan said: “We hope to get a coordination committee anytime now. We were assured so by the CM during our previous meeting with him one-and-a-half months ago.”
The RJD and JD(U), however, have left it to their top leaders to take a call on the issue. RJD national spokesperson Subodh Kumar said, “Since the matter is discussed at the level of our top leaders, Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav, it is entirely up to them to decide on when to form the coordination committee.” JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said, “Since the CM has already discussed it with other GA constituents, we hope he will take a call on it.”
Sources in alliance parties said smaller parties are also wary of the alleged power-tussle between the JD(U) and the RJD. They are also apprehensive about the internal bickering in the RJD, especially in the wake of Sudhakar Singh’s resignation and the “displeasure” of his father, RJD state president Jagdanand Singh, with the top party leaders. As for relationship between Nitish and Tejashwi, both are engaged in mild posturings with Tejashwi saying that he was in “no hurry” to become CM and Nitish Kumar also keeping him and all guessing on deciding the timing of calling it quits as Bihar CM. It is quite likely that Nitish would continue as CM till 2024 Lok Sabha polls.