Friday, March 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cong candidate Bihar Speaker
Left to vote against Nitish

PATNA, March 9 (PTI) —The Nitish Kumar-led NDA government tonight appeared to be on its way out, facing heavy odds in the crucial confidence vote in the Bihar Assembly tomorrow as the 11-member Left combine of the CPI and the CPI-ML decided to vote against the government motion, after the ruling combine conceded defeat in the Speaker’s election.

On a day of dramatic developments when Congress nominee Sadanand Singh was elected Speaker unopposed with the NDA backing him after it realised it did not have the requisite numbers, the Left alliance late tonight decided to vote against Mr Nitish Kumar when he seeks the confidence vote tomorrow.

Top NDA leaders decided to withdraw the alliance candidate, Mr Gajendra Prasad Himanshu, saying they wanted to honour the healthy tradition of not having a contest for the Speaker’s post.

With the CPI and the CPI-ML deciding to vote against Mr Nitish Kumar, the opposition led by the RJD can claim a strength of 171 in the 322-member House, nine more than required for a majority.

The ruling NDA claims support of 151 members and hopes that a split in the 23-member Congress helps it cross the half-way mark.

With an assured support of 151 MLAs in a House with an effective strength of 322, Mr Nitish Kumar needs the backing of 11 more MLAs.

As against this, 171 MLAs — RJD (123), Congress (23), BSP (5), CPI (5), CPI-ML (6), RCP and CPM (2 each), MCC (1) and Independents (4) are expected to vote against him.

Though the CPI-ML had made its intentions of voting against Mr Nitish Kumar clear yesterday, the CPI’s announcement came late tonight.

Mr Nitish Kumar, whose survival in the office hinges primarily on a possible split in the 23-member Congress legislative party with a section of the upper caste party MLAs said to be anti-Laloo, faces an uphill task to secure a majority after the decision of the CPI and CPI-ML to vote against him.

Meanwhile, most of the Congress MLAs have been put up in a leading hotel in Patna where aicc General Secretary Mohsina Kidwai and senior party leader Ajit Jogi are also staying.

The Congress leaders have been interacting with the MLAs at regular intervals.

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