The ruling NDA and the opposition Grand Alliance in Bihar are poised for yet another test of strength on the floor of the state legislative assembly on Wednesday with their respective candidates filing nominations for election to the post of the Deputy Speaker.
Senior JD(U) leader and former minister Maheshwar Hazari on Tuesday filed his nomination papers as the NDAs nominee, in presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar among others.
Nomination papers were also filed on behalf of RJD MLA Bhudeo Chaudhary by his proposers Bhai Virendra and Alok Mehta (RJD), Ajeet Sharma (Congress), Ram Ratan Singh (CPI), Ajay Singh (CPI-M) and Mehboob Alam (CPI-ML).
The odds appear stacked in favour of the candidate of the NDA which has 125 members in the 243-strong House besides having recently won over the sole legislator of Mayawatis BSP and an Independent both of whom have been accommodated in the state cabinet.
RJD MLA Lalit Yadav said "the opposition had been in favour of both Speaker and Deputy Speaker being elected unanimously. There has been a convention in the state assembly that the Speaker is from the ruling coalition while his deputy is from the opposition".
"The proposal to the effect by our leader Tejashwi Yadav, when the Speaker was elected in November last year, was turned down by the ruling coalition. As a result, we fielded our candidate then and are doing so again now", he added.
Senior BJP leader Vijay Kumar Sinha was elected as the Speaker and the polling, which took place inside the House, was marred by controversy as an audio clip had gone viral in which the RJDs jailed president Lalu Prasad could be heard, telephonically, offering allurements to a party legislator in return for abstaining from voting. Mr Sinha had defeated RJD nominee Awadh Bihari Chaudhary.
With the BJP winning larger number of seats within NDA in the recently concluded Bihar polls, the ruling coalition has gone for a role reversal this time with party's Vijay Sinha becoming speaker and the post of deputy speaker going to the JD(U).
Last time, when Mr 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.