PATNA: Less than a day after resigning as Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar is set to take the oath at 10am on Thursday as the head of a new Bihar government that will include BJP and its allies.
After meeting governor Keshari Nath Tripathi late on Wednesday, Kumar, accompanied by senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi drove to Raj Bhavan to stake claim to form the government.
Modi, who will be sworn-in as the deputy CM of Bihar, told journalists that a list of 132 MLAs supporting the alliance was submitted to the governor who has invited Mr. Kumar to form the government. These include 71 of JD(U), BJP 53, RLSP 2, LJP 2, HAM 1 and three Independents.
He said the swearing-in ceremony will be held at 10am on Thursday. It is to be Mr. Kumar’s 6th term as chief minister.
The JD(U)-BJP combine will now return to power after four years in the politically volatile state. led by Nitish Kumar, the JD(U) had walked out of the NDA in July 2013 after Narendra Modi was nominated as head of the BJP’s campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
However, in no mood to give up without a fight, Tejashwi Yadav along with other RJD leaders marched to Raj Bhavan late Wednesday night to mark their protest against the governor’s decision of inviting Nitish to form the government. “RJD being the single largest party in the state should be given an opportunity to stake claim to form the government,” Tejashwi said.
The JD(U), BJP, their allies and supporting independent MLAs together account for 132 seats in the 243-member Bihar Assembly, 10 more than the magic figure of 122.
RJD has 81 MLAs and even if Congress with 27 MLAs and CPI-ML (03) decide to back Tejashwi, their number would add up to 110.
Reacting sharply to the governor inviting Nitish for the swearing-in at 10am after giving him an appointment for 11am, Tejashwi said “RJD should be given the opportunity to prove its majority on the floor.”
“Governor gave us time of 11AM and now suddenly has asked NDA for oath ceremony at 10AM. Why so much hurry & rush Mr. Honest & Moral?” he tweeted well past midnight.
“If Nitish Ji is proud of his moral values & honesty, He would not had been in midnight rush to stake claim for govt. Honest man doesn’t fear,” he said in a series of tweets.
He claimed half of JD(U) MLAs were in touch with him and that is what forced Kumar to rush to Raj Bhavan at midnight to stake claim to form the government.
Earlier, citing irreconcilable differences with the senior ally over corruption charges against Tejashwi, Kumar announced his resignation after meeting Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi, hours after the RJD supremo rejected outright the demand for his son’s ouster.
“In the circumstances that prevail in Bihar, it became difficult to run the grand alliance government,” Kumar had told reporters outside Raj Bhavan after submitting his resignation to the governor.
Kumar’s resignation capped days of stand-off between his party JD(U) and the RJD, with the former insisting that Tejashwi defend himself against the allegations.
Tensions simmered between the two alliance partners ever since the CBI registered a case against Lalu Prasad, his wife and former chief minister Rabri devi and son Tejashwi in a land-for-hotels case.
The offence was allegedly committed when Lalu was the railway minister in the UPA government. He was allegedly instrumental in handing over the maintenance of two hotels of Indian Railways-owned PSU ICRTC to two Patna businessmen in return for a prime plot of land in the Bihar capital where his family is said to be constructing a shopping mall.
Earlier, after putting in his papers, Kumar told reporters outside Raj Bhavan, that he had favoured opposition unity but that was not possible when it only had a “reactive agenda”.