Bihar Council Passes Police Bill Amidst Opposition Parties' Boycott of Proceedings

Opposition MLAs had, a day ago, been allegedly roughed up and forcibly evicted from the Lower House by police.

New Delhi: Bihar’s Upper House passed the controversial Police Bill that attempts to give more teeth to law enforcement after boycott by opposition MLAs following a day of unprecedented turmoil in the Lower House, that saw police come in and handle legislators, allegedly causing injuries to some.

Several opposition MLAs had complained that they were roughed up by police who physically pushed them out of the assembly in Patna on Tuesday, March 23. Opposition leaders shared videos of MLAs being dragged and shoved.

Consequently, they boycotted proceedings in both Houses on March 24, during which the controversial Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021, was passed.

Also read: Bihar Police Bill Passed Amidst Unprecedented Chaos in Assembly, Protests in Patna

As reported by The Wire, the Nitish Kumar-led government has already lodged two first information reports (FIRs) against opposition MLAs, office bearers of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and former ministers, including RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Tej Pratap Yadav, Shyam Rajak and Jagadanand Singh over protests against the Bill and “allegedly creating ruckus in the assembly by taking speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha hostage for several hours and misbehaving with him.”

Opposition protests

The matter of Bihar police’s alleged mistreatment of opposition MLAs also reached New Delhi on Wednesday, when the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress sought to raise the matter in the Rajya Sabha. The chair, however, did not allow the matter to be raised.

The DMK, Shiv Sena, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, TRS and AAP all likened the forcible eviction of MLAs before the Bill was passed in the Bihar assembly as a murder of democracy.

“In doing this, the BJP and JD(U) have not only sought to throttle the voices of peoples’ representatives, but also assaulted constitutional principles. We unequivocally condemn this unprecedented attack on India’s democracy, and urge every Indian to stand by democratic principles,” they said in the joint statement.

The opposition leaders also claimed that the BJP-JD(U) combine in Bihar has pushed through the draconian Bill that confers unbridled powers upon Bihar Police, alleging that this was “unconstitutional”.

“It is an insidious conspiracy to enforce ‘police raj’ in Bihar and portends what the BJP intends to do throughout India employing the sheer tyranny of power,” they said, adding that the bill violates the rule of law and undermines human rights.

Also read: Bihar: Nitish Govt Lodges FIRs Against Tejashwi, Others Over Police Clash, Assembly Ruckus

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said those stripping democracy have no right to call themselves a government. He said the opposition will continue to raise issues in public interest and it does not fear anything.

“It is clear from the shameful events in the Bihar Assembly that the chief minister is firmly under the influence of the BJP and the RSS. Those stripping democracy have no right to call themselves a government,” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

“The opposition will continue to raise issues in public interest. We are not afraid,” he also said.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, along with several opposition leaders like Ram Gopal Yadav, P Wilson, Vandana Chavan, Manoj Jha and Sanjay Singh said they condemned the police action in Bihar which was “unfortunate”.

Nitish’s response

At the legislative council, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar warned the opposition alliance against provoking the ruling National Democratic Alliance, citing that it was numerically stronger. Kumar shouted that “the entire public saw what goondaism took place yesterday. They will give you a befitting reply”.

He also said, “Do not forget that we are greater in number than you are. Yesterday, people of this side sat quietly, maintaining decorum, while you were engaging in mischief. Be mindful of the consequences”.

In the 243-member assembly, the ruling NDA has 126 MLAs and has the support of an Independent. The opposition has 110 legislators while AIMIM has five and one MLA is from LJP.

In the 75-member legislative council, the ruling coalition has overwhelming numbers.