Keeping its stand a closely guarded secret, JD(U)'s erstwhile ally BJP too said its legislature party would meet twice on Wednesday to discuss its strategy for the by-poll.

Trouble stared at JD(U) with a dissident leader claiming that 33 MLAs skipped the legislature party meeting on Tuesday evening. Party chief Sharad Yadav tried to play down absence of MLAs and expressed confidence that the party would win in by-poll.

Asked how many MLAs skipped the meeting, Yadav said, "I have not counted the number."

Minister Vijay Chaudhary said that MLAs who could not make it to the meeting had informed the party about their absence.

Gyanendra Singh Gyanu, leader of the dissident group, who was among those absent at the meeting at the Chief Minister's residence, claimed that 33 MLAs did not attend the session.

He also claimed that many who attended the meeting would side with them during voting during the Rajya Sabha by-poll, which has turned into a trial of strength.

Another dissident leader also claimed that 32 party MLAs did not attend the meeting.

A prominent dissident MLA requesting anonymity said they were still in JD(U) but were absent to protest lack of inner party discipline.

The ruling JD(U) has 117 MLAs, including the Speaker whereas the BJP has 84 legislators. While Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD has 21 MLAs, Congress has 4 and CPI 1. At present, there are 5 independents MLAs in Bihar Assembly.

Since the arithmetic is weighing against ruling JD(U), the support of 21 RJD MLAs is crucial for it in a House of 243, with an effective strength of 232 because of 11 vacancies.


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