Thursday, March 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Rabri, Nitish stake claims in Bihar

PATNA, March 1 (PTI) — The two rival contenders for power in Bihar, the NDA and RJD, today staked their claim to form the government claiming they had a majority with NDA leader Nitish Kumar claiming the support of 146 MLAs while Chief Minister Rabri Devi did not produce any list.

As Governor V.C. Pande began exploring possibilities of government formation in the wake of elections which threw up a hung Assembly, Mr Kumar met him first along with leader of the 12-member JMM-S. Shibu Soren, who earlier extended support to the NDA.

Mr Kumar’s list also includes the names of 12 independents besides 122 MLAs belonging to the NDA.

Mr Kumar told reporters later that he enjoyed the support of a “fairly good number of MLAs” to prove his majority in the 324-member Assembly.

Chief Minister Rabri Devi, who tendered her resignation in the wake of constitution of the new house, also met the Governor and asserted that by virtue of being the leader of the single largest party she had the right to be invited first.

Significantly, two Left parties the CPI and CPI-ML with six MLAs each, have decided to maintain equidistance from both combinations by not supporting either of them in government formation.

Meanwhile, the state Congress which has 23 MLAs has left a decision on its strategy to the party high command.

Mr Soren who had earlier demanded the chief ministership in exchange for support to the NDA today announced that his party’s support was unconditional.

Mr Kumar was accompanied by BJP leader Kailashpati Mishra, state BJP chief Nandkishore Yadav and Bihar People’s Party leader Anand Mohan Singh.

Asked whether he was in touch with Congress MLAs for support, Mr Kumar said “the Congress MLAs have fought elections on an anti-Laloo plank and many of them will like to support us.”

Mr Kumar said some Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs were also in touch with him.

The BSP has five members in the house and had reportedly lent “unconditional support” to the RJD. The Marxist Coordination Committee, which has one member in the house, has also extended support to the RJD.

UNI adds: RJD leader Laloo Prasad Yadav said talks were on with some parties seeking their support for forming the new government in the state. Mr Yadav also urged the governor to personally verify the support of the Independent members claimed by the NDA leader as was done earlier by former Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari when Mrs Rabri Devi took office after revocation of President’s rule in March, 1999.

Earlier, Bihar Governor Vinod Chandra Pandey dissolved the Assembly on the recommendation of the state cabinet.

The Cabinet, which met earlier in the day, decided to recommend dissolution of the eleventh Assembly, whose tenure was to end on April 9.

Official sources said the Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Rabri Devi, also urged the governor to take steps to constitute the new ministry.

Meanwhile, the five-member Bahujan Samaj Party in the Bihar Assembly will extend support to the Rashtriya Janata Dal in forming the next government in Bihar, BSP supremo Kanshi Ram announced here today.

Mr Kanshi Ram said he had a telephonic talk with RJD leader Laloo Prasad Yadav and assured him of the BSP’s support on the condition that the RDJ government should protect the interests of dalits. Mr Yadav had accepted this condition and therefore the BSP would extend support to his party, he added.


Naveen to stake claim today

BHUBANESWAR, March 1 (UNI) — Biju Janata Dal (BJD) President and Union Mines and Mineral Minister Naveen Patnaik will be formally elected the leader of the BJP-BJD alliance in Orissa at a joint meeting of the two parties here tomorrow.

BJP General Secretary M. Venkiah Naidu who arrived here from Delhi to attend the meeting of party’s newly elected members, scheduled to be held in the afternoon, told newsmen at the airport that the delegation of the two alliances would call on Orissa Governor M.M. Rajendran tomorrow under the leadership of Mr Naveen Patnaik to formally stake claim to form the government.

Mr Naidu said the BJP Legislature Party would elect its leader today and tomorrow there would be a joint meeting of the BJP and BJD elected members where Mr Naveen Patnaik would be elected as leader of the alliance.

The BJP General Secretary said leaders from the two parties would sit and discuss the size and composition of the new ministry tomorrow.

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