New Delhi: The Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar comfortably won the floor test in assembly Monday, two weeks after the chief minister’s dramatic reunion with the BJP, which ended the rule of the Mahagathbandhan in the state.
The Janata Dal (United) national president won the support of 129 MLAs in the 243-seat assembly, after the Opposition walked out of the House. The required number was 122.
One of the chief architects of the opposition INDIA bloc, Nitish switched back last month, after having run the Mahagathbandhan since August 2022. The JDU chief, also the NDA chief minister in 2022, had then dumped the BJP for apparently trying to “split” his party.
Returning to the BJP last month, Nitish said he was quitting INDIA because “nothing was right” in the grouping and that he had tried to make it work, but could not.
“The people in the INDIA alliance are not serious. I have severed ties… I was quiet for some time. No one was doing any work. I’m out,” he had said after quitting as chief minister of the previous government.
He also said people in his party were not comfortable with the Grand Alliance in the state, as they faced problems due to the “RJD’s attitude”.
The JD(U) leader was sworn in as chief minister of Bihar for a record ninth time on 28 January — hours after he quit. BJP’s Samrat Chaudhary and Vijay Sinha were sworn in as his deputies.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had said of his latest switch: “Nitish Kumar, who frequently changes political partners, is giving tough competition to the chameleons in changing colours. The people of Bihar will not forgive the architects of this betrayal and those dancing to their tunes. It is quite clear that the Prime Minister and the BJP are worried about the ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ (Congress’s second outreach march led by Rahul Gandhi) and this political drama has been created to divert attention from it.”
The JD(U) has 45 members in the 243-member Bihar assembly, while the BJP and other NDA allies have 82. Among the allies are four MLAs of Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha.
The current Opposition in the state — the RJD, Congress, and Left parties — have 114 lawmakers. The RJD is the single largest party in the House with 79 MLAs.
‘Caste- and corruption-free Bihar’
Bihar Speaker and RJD leader Awadh Bihari Chaudhary, chosen for the post in the previous government, faced a no-confidence vote first Monday and was removed. As many as 125 MLAs voted against him, while 112 were in his favour.
The no-trust proceedings were then conducted by his deputy Maheshwar Hazari, who is from the JD(U).
The Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD also suffered another setback Monday when three of its MLAs dumped the party and switched to Nitish Kumar’s camp.
The RJD’s Neelam Devi, Chetan Anand and Prahlad Yadav were seen sitting at the newly-formed NDA government’s side of the Assembly as proceedings began on Monday.
This prompted RJD leader and former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav to request all party MLAs to “sit in their respective seats till the end of voting, otherwise voting will be considered invalid”.
During the no-trust debate, Tejashwi — the son of Lalu Prasad Yadav — said he felt sorry for the JD(U) legislators because “your chief minister can switch sides often… but you have to go to the people and answer to them”.
“What would you tell them if they asked you why has Nitish Kumar taken oath thrice during one term?” he asked.
During his speech, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Vijay Sinha said the new government had resolved to make Bihar crime-free.
“Nitish Kumar has further cleared Bihar’s path to development,” he said, adding the government would create a caste- and corruption-free “New Bihar”.
Nitish said they (JDU and the BJP) had worked together from 2005, and that there had been significant development in Bihar. “Before that, his (Tejashwi Yadav’s) father and mother got the opportunity to serve Bihar for 15 years. What did they do? There used to be many conflicts between Hindus and Muslims. But when I came to power, these conflicts stopped,” he said in the Assembly.
Also read: BJP sent Shivraj Singh Chouhan packing. Why would it make Nitish Kumar CM again?