Sharad Yadav and his supporter Ali Anwar Ansari have been disqualified as Rajya Sabha MPs after they rebelled against current JD(U) boss and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for dumping the Grand Alliance with Congress and Lalu Yadav's RJD in Bihar and partnering with the BJP earlier this year.
Hearing a request by Mr Yadav challenging his disqualification, the Delhi High Court today refused to overturn it for now and restrained him from attending the ongoing parliament session. The court, however, allowed Mr Yadav to draw allowances, perks and retain his bungalow as an MP. The case will be heard in March next year.
In parliament, the opposition parties contended that since Nitish Kumar sought votes in the Bihar assembly elections as a member of the "Grand Alliance" and then opted out of it, it is his MPs in the Rajya Sabha who should be disqualified.
Vice President M Venkaiah NAidu, who is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, would have none of it. "After taking into account all the facts and submissions made, it is clear that by their speeches and actions that both Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar have voluntarily given up their membership. They cased to be members of Rajya Sabha from December 4," Mr Naidu emphasised.
Nitish Kumar has said that by defying a party order and attending a rally of opposition parties organised by Lalu Yadav in Patna in August this year, Sharad Yadav "voluntarily" gave up his membership of the JDU. Hence, he could not be counted as a JD(U) Rajya Sabha member anymore.
The Election Commission has rejected Sharad Yadav's claim to the JD(U)'s arrow symbol, allotting it to Nitish Kumar. Mr Yadav's group has challenged that decision in court. Sharad Yadav also moved court earlier this week against his disqualifcation from the Rajya Sabha. He has said that he was not given a chance to present his case before he was disqualified.
The JD(U) now has eight Rajya Sabha MPs after Mr Yadav and Mr Ali were disqualified. The team has moved from the opposition benches to the treasury benches after Nitish Kumar's new partnership with the BJP sealed in September, boosting the government's strength in a house where it has struggled to push legislation because of the opposition's superior numbers.
Sharad Yadav was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2016 and his term was scheduled to end in 2022, while Mr Anwar's term was to expire in 2018.