Nitish party MLA Maheshwar Hazari elected deputy speaker of Bihar assembly amid oppn boycott

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(Adding detail, passage of police bill in council) Patna, Mar 24 (PTI) Senior JD(U) leader Maheshwar Hazari was elected Deputy Speaker of the Bihar legislative assembly amid boycott by opposition on Wednesday, accusing the ruling NDA of having throttled their voice and rammed down a 'draconian' Bill on the previous day amidst unprecedented chaos.

Hazari was chosen deputy speaker by voice vote in the absence of opposition members in the house.

The opposition RJD, Congress, CPI-ML, CPI and CPI(M) kept away from the house and instead held a parallel session outside in one of the open grounds where they 'unanimously' elected RJD's Bhudeo Chaudhary as the 'Speaker' and members squatted by way of taking their 'seats' Chaudhary had filed nomination for the deputy speaker post, but neither he nor the opposition MLAs participated in the election.

Earlier, the opposition MLAs staged demonstrations outside the main building of the assembly on the last day of the budget session Wednesday where they stood holding placards and raising slogans against the chief minister for the happenings of the previous day.

The Grand Alliance members are protesting against Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021, which was passed by voice vote late Tuesday night.

The legislation seeks to give more teeth to what was previously known as Bihar Military Police, an elite force which, among other things, assists central paramilitary forces in guarding high-security establishments like airports, borders with Nepal and the internationally renowned Bodhi Temple complex at Bodh Gaya which has once been target of a terrorist strike.

The police bill was approved by the legislative council Wednesday amid boycott by the opposition members.

Speaking inside the assembly, Kumar expressed dismay over the turmoil witnessed on Tuesday when the proceedings were disrupted multiple times and opposition legislators had to be dragged away with the help of marshals and police personnel when they tried to prevent the speaker from taking his seat.

Kumar made the remarks when he rose to congratulate fellow JD(U) leader Hazari upon being elected as the deputy speaker.

The opposition has held that provisions in the bill like doing away with the need for a warrant before conducting searches and arrests were aimed at giving unfettered powers to the police and expressed fear that this could lead to high- handedness.

'It is amazing that the opposition too had fielded its candidate but chose not to take part in voting. Perhaps they were aware that they did not have the numbers so they thought it better to stay outside under some pretext', the chief minister remarked mockingly.

Kumar said the opposition needed to beware of its 'advisors' and realise that it was frittering away the opportunity to take part in proceedings of the house and hold forth on legislations.

The opposition,however, was unmoved and its boycott of the house continued in the post-lunch session which was set apart for private members bills.

'There is no point in running the House without an opposition. Had the ruling dispensation not lost sight of this fact, honourable members would not have been made to undergo the humiliation yesterday.

'We expect the chief minister to come and take stock of the hurt, physical and mental, we have suffered', the protesting opposition leaders said.

Several videos of opposition MLAs getting kicked and dragged by the hair and female legislators being shoved by policemen have gone viral on the social media.

The crackdown followed their attempts to lay siege to the chamber of speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha, thereby preventing him from reaching the assembly hall and resume business.

Later, police personnel had to enter the assembly hall and help marshals in physically evicting a handful of unruly legislators who had vandalized the furniture placed inside the well and clambered on to the speakers podium in a bid to prevent him from taking his seat.

Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav and his MLA brother Tej Pratap Yadav had hit the streets here Tuesday against the bill.

With the BJP winning maximum number of seats within NDA in the recently concluded polls to 243-member assembly, the ruling coalition has gone for a role reversal this time with saffron party getting speaker post and the chair of deputy speaker going to the JD(U).

Last time, when Kumar's party was in the commanding position, JD(U)'s Vijay Chaudhary was the speaker and Amrendra Pratap Singh of the BJP his deputy. PTI AR NAC SNS SNS