Nitish is Bihar CM again, murmurs of protest within

Patna/New Delhi


Nitish Kumar was on Thursday sworn in as the Bihar Chief Minister at the head of a JD-U-BJP government, a day after he dumped the RJD and the Congress, but faced murmurs of protest from senior leaders including Sharad Yadav. The Kerala unit of his party snapped ties with him.

Nitish Kumar also came under attack from former allies who called his decision a "betrayal" of the 2015 mandate.

Nitish Kumar, who took the oath of office and secrecy with his former Deputy Sushil Kumar Modi of the BJP, has to prove his majority in the Assembly on Friday.

He was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi at a hurriedly-organised event at the Raj Bhavan as JD-U supporters raised slogans of "Nitish Kumar Zindabad".

The new JD-U-BJP combine including some other parties has submitted to the Governor a list of 132 MLAs, 10 more than the half-way mark of 122 in the 243 member Assembly. 

They include 71 of JD-U, BJP's 53, RLSP's and LJP's two each, HAM's one and three independents. The RJD has 80 MLAs and its ally Congress has 27. The CPI-ML, bitterly opposed to the BJP, has three members.

"My commitment is for the people of Bihar and for the development of Bihar. The decision is in Bihar's interest and for its development," Nitish Kumar said after taking oath.

The Chief Minister pledged to take the state to new heights of development.

It was not a smooth affair though as two JD-U MPs, M.P. Veerendra Kumar, head of the party's Kerala unit, and Ali Anwar (Bihar) rebelled against his decision to embrace the Bharatiya Janata Party. 

The unhappy leaders met at Sharad Yadav's residence in Delhi and said the veteran was upset with Nitish Kumar. The meeting was also attended by JD-U General Secretary Arun Srivastava and spokesperson Javed Raza.

Veerendra Kumar said he was ready to quit the Rajya Sabha to pursue his fight against "fascist forces".

"We are not accepting the JD-U joining the NDA and our relations with Nitish Kumar have ended. It's shocking Nitish Kumar has joined the NDA. We all thought that he will fight the fascist tendencies but he has now become a part of it."

Veerendra Kumar added: "He (Sharad Yadav) told me there is no question of accepting the present stand of Nitish Kumar." 

"None of the party office bearers were consulted before taking such a cruel decision," Anwar said. He said Nitish Kumar on Thursday morning had spoken to Sharad Yadav over phone and briefed him about the circumstances under which he chose to go with the BJP.

Nitish Kumar's move marks his return to the NDA after almost four years. The JD-U severed ties with the BJP after it chose Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate in 2013.

Lalu Prasad, whose son Tejashwi Yadav faces corruption charges and which triggered the collapse of the Grand Alliance, accused Nitish Kumar of "cheating" the people of Bihar. He said Nitish Kumar "conspired" with the BJP to get graft cases filed against his family.

"I made him the Chief Minister despite my party being the single largest party in the state."

The RJD leader said his party was consulting legal experts and may approach the Supreme Court as the verdict in the S.R. Bommai case was not followed while inviting Nitish Kumar to form the government in Bihar.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also slammed Nitish Kumar for shaking hands with the BJP for "personal gains".

"The mandate was against the communal stand of the BJP but Nitish has chosen to embrace them. We were aware of what was going on for three-four months. This is the problem with Indian politics. For the sake of power and personal gains, they compromise with anything."

BSP chief Mayawati accused Nitish Kumar of betraying the people of Bihar. "Democracy will be weakened. This is another example of hunger for power." - IANS