*Representational Picture        

Though he was unanimously elected by BJP MLAs, Babulal Marandi is yet to be notified by the state Assembly secretariat as Leader of the Opposition parties on legal ground.

As a result, the month-long Budget session of the Jharkhand Assembly began in the newly built Assembly in Ranchi on Friday, with a vacant seat of the Leader of the Opposition.

This provided a political opportunity to BJP MLAs to troop into the well demanding Speaker Rabindra Nath Mahato to announce BJP's Legislature Party leader Babulal Marandi as the Leader of Opposition.

The Opposition members resumed their seats on the request of the Speaker later.' The decision is on hold,' said a senior official with the assembly secretariat.

Marandi was found sitting in the front row. This seat was allotted to him during a special session between January 6 and January 8 soon after the JMM-Congress-RJD coalition alliance won a thumping majority in the assembly polls last year in November-December.

On February 24, BJP MLAs had unanimously elected Marandi as their Legislature Party Leader after he merged his Jharkhand Vikas Party (Prajatantrik-JVM-P) with the saffron party a week ago in the presence of former BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

A BJP legislature party delegation had also given a letter to the office of the Speaker in favour of Marandi to notify him as leader of the Opposition on February 17, when he had merged his party.

The Speaker, however, called the name of senior BJP MLA C P Singh to speak on the obituary reference.

BJP's number has swelled to 26 in the Jharkhand Assembly with Marandi's arrival. The ruling JMM-Congress-RJD has a combined strength of 47 in the 81-member House.

Why Marandi was not notified as leader of the opposition? The cause is rooted in the split of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha. On JVM symbol three candidates -Bandhu Tirkey, Pradeep Yadav and Marandi were elected as MLAs.After Marandi who was its President joined BJP, Tirkey and Yadav preferred to stay put and wrote a joint letter to the Election Commission of India that Marandi had no authority to merge the JVM with BJP.

This prompted the Speaker to maintain the status quo. As such Marandi continued to sit in his seat allotted earlier. Now, while Yadav and Tirkey claiming that the JVM was illegally 'merged' with the BJP. Faced with opposition by two JVM MLAs, Marandi who had founded this party is not likely to occupy the prestigious seat of Leader of Opposition. 

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