Patna: Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, senior JD(U) legislator and a close confidante of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, was on Wednesday unanimously elected as the Speaker of Bihar Assembly.
Chaudhary's name was proposed and seconded by members of all the parties, including JD(U), RJD, Congress, besides opposition BJP, Hindustani Awam Morcha and LJP.
But, three members of CPI-ML remained absent from the House during election of the Speaker of the 16th Bihar Legislative Assembly.
Later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shrawan Kumar said that though members of CPI-ML were not present in the House during election of the Speaker, they had conveyed their verbal consent in the name of Chaudhary.
58-year-old Chaudhary is the fifth term MLA from Sarairanjan constituency in Samastipur district. He started his legislative career as Congress MLA in 1982 but later shifted to JD(U) and was number two minister in the previous JD(U) ministry of Nitish Kumar.
Election of the new Speaker was the first agenda taken by the House today.
Protem Speaker Sadanand Singh called the name of 11 proposers and as many seconders in favour of Chaudhary and later put the proposal to voice vote which got a big yes.
Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar, former Chief Minister and HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, Congress state chief and minister Ashok Choudhary, JD(U) leaders Shyam Rajak, Ranju Geeta and BJP's Sanjay Sarawgi were among 11 proposers to Chaudhary's candidature.
Later, the Protem Speaker asked CM Nitish Kumar and Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar to escort Chaudhary to the chair of the Speaker which they did.
Son of a freedom fighter and Congress legislator Jagdish Prasad Chaudhary, Vijay Chaudhary was born on January 8, 1957.
He is an MA in History from Patna University. He was a bank probationer at Trivandrum which he left after his father's death and plunged into politics by winning the byelection from Sarairanjan in 1982 as Congress candidate.
Chaudhary served as General Secretary of state Congress and a member of AICC from 2000 to 2005.
Later, due to closeness with Nitish Kumar he left Congress and joined JD(U) and was made its General Secretary and main spokesman in 2008. He also served as JD(U) state chief and later was inducted in state cabinet in 2010. In his welcome speech, Nitish Kumar lauded the personality
of the new Speaker and assured cooperation from the Treasury benches to run the House.
Kumar narrated his association with the new Speaker since early 80s. He said he came in contact with Chaudhary when he became MLA from Lok Dal for the first time in 1985.
Despite being in rival parties, Chaudhary crossed party boundary and supported opposition members "like us on issues concerning the common man." "I could never forget those days," an emotional Kumar said.
He said unanimity in his name from all parties reflected his personality.
"You have been elected from one party (JD-U) but from today onwards you would be of every parties and conduct the business of the House impartially," Kumar said.
Speaking next, Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, who is also the RJD Legislature Party leader, greeted the new Speaker and expressed the hope he would be particularly kind towards first time MLAs and youths in raising issues of public interest. He promised that his party legislators would follow the Chair in a disciplined manner.
Senior BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar highlighted the pleasant nature of the new Speaker which he and other BJP members had seen during days of NDA rule. He exuded confidence that Chaudhary would run the House as "guardian" and give equal treatment to both treasury and opposition benches.
Congress Legislature Party leader Sadanand Singh, who is senior most MLA entering the present House from Kahalgaon for 9th term, highlighted good qualities of Chaudhary and reminded him of the balance hanging above seat of the Speaker which denoted justice.
Former Chief Minister and HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi greeted the new Speaker.
He, however, used the opportunity to apparently take a dig at the previous Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary who, he alleged, "acted against members like me who rebelled against Nitish Kumar giving the laid down rules a go bye".
"You might have to take some hard decision impartially which I hope you are competent to do," Manjhi said and reminded him of the punchline of great story writer Prem Chand that a person sitting on the seat of justice is neither a friend of anybody nor an enemy.
Legislature party leader of LJP Raju Tiwari and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader Lallan Paswan also greeted the new Speaker. Senior BJP MLA and former Leader of opposition Nand Kishore Yadav hailed the charming nature of the new Speaker.
He said as "guardian" of the House, Chaudhary should give preference to numerically "weak" opposition parties in the 16th Bihar Assembly.
In the 243-members Bihar House, the ruling grand secular alliance of RJD, JD(U) and Congress have 178 members while opposition NDA has a strength of 57 after death of ally RLSP MLA Basant Kumar on November 30.
Expressing thanks to all the members for posing faith in him, Chaudhary promised he would rise above party politics and conduct business of the House imparially.
Being a student of History, Chaudhary told the members why a person sitting on the chair is called Speaker while his main role was to listen to members.
The system of Speker evolved during 12th-13th century in Britain when Speaker headed the house and his job was to convey the decision of the house to the king.
He narrated the heroic story of a British Speaker Lenthal in 17th century who did not bow to an order of King Charless to arrest five members who had spoken against him.
Chaudhary ordered distribution of a copy of Rules and conduct of the Bihar Legislative Assembly and that of Constitution as a "dharam granth" to every member to help them act in the House in proper manner.
Later, Chaudhary took first business of the House as the new Speaker by delivering oath to some members who could not take oath yesterday.
As Chaudhary adjourned the house for the day and went to his chamber, the CM and other members went there and greeted him with flowers.
He announced that there will be no sitting of the House tomorrow due to Chehallum and the address of the Governor Ram Nath Kovind to joint session of the two Legislative Houses would now take place on Friday.
BJP leader in both Houses Sushil Kumar Modi, who is a member of Legislative Council, came to the Assembly and greeted the new Speaker.