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Nitish Kumar wins trust vote in Bihar Assembly, denies charge of opportunism

File photo of Nitish Kumar
File photo of Nitish Kumar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had resigned on Wednesday evening after ending  his Janata Dal (United)'s alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress and was sworn in again yesterday at the head of a coalition government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), won the vote of confidence in the state legislative assembly today with 131 of the 243 legislators voting for him. 
 
The discussion the motion of confidence moved by Mr. Kumar and the discussion on it were marred by noisy protests by RJD members. As many as 108 members voted against the motion.
 
In his brief response to the debate, Mr. Kumar rejected allegations by the Opposition that his new alliance with the BJP was an act of political opportunism.
 
Responding to criticism that his move was against the anti-BJP mandate of the 2015 elections, Mr. Kumar asserted that secularism could not mask corruption and political parties should remember that they had got a mandate to serve the people.
 
BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi also said that the "mandate was not for corruption".
 
Mr. Kumar and Mr. Modi had been sworn in at a function at Raj  Bhavan yesterday morning by Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, who asked the new Chief Minister to prove his majority in the Assembly within two days.
 
This is the sixth time in his political career that Mr. Kumar, 66, a former Union Minister, was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar.
 
The JD (U) had formally withdrawn from the NDA in June 2013 and ended its 17-year-old partnership with the BJP in Bihar after the latter had named then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the chairman of its campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in a clear indication that he would be the party's Prime Ministerial candidate.
 
The JD (U) and Mr Kumar, in particular, had repeatedly made it clear in the preceding weeks that they would not accept Mr Modi as the NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate in view of his alleged failure to control the 2002 post-Godhra violence in which hundreds of people were killed in Gujarat.
 
Mr. Kumar was sworn in for the fifth time as Chief Minister on November 20, 2015 after leading the "Mahagathbandhan" comprising his party, the RJD and the Congress to a resounding win in the elections to the state legislative assembly. That was the first time that the three parties had come together in an alliance in Bihar and was seen by many as the model for a larger alliance of Opposition parties ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
 
The alliance had ended up with 178 seats in the 243-member assembly, while the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), finished with 58 seats. Among the alliance partners, the RJD became the single largest party in the assembly with 80 seats, while the JD(U) bagged 71 and the Congress got 27.
 
As it turned out, the alliance lasted less than two years as Mr. Kumar resigned on Wednesday evening, hours after RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav reiterated that his son Tejashwi Yadav would not quit as deputy chief minister despite the CBI filing a case against him.
 
Mr. Kumar met the Governor here that evening and handed over his resignation. Later, Mr. Kumar told journalists outside his official residence that the Governor had accepted his resignation and asked him to continue in office till alternative arrangements were made.
 
Events began unfolding rapidly after that. Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Mr. Kumar's resignation, saying on micro-blogging site Twitter, "Congratulations to Nitish Kumar ji for joining the fight against corruption. 125 crore citizens welcome and support honesty."
 
"In the interest of the bright future of the nation, especially of Bihar, we have to rise above political differences and fight as one against corruption, that is the call of the nation and the time," he said. 
 
Within minutes, Mr. Kumar responded to that, conveying his "heartfelt thanks" to Mr. Modi for his reaction to his resignation.
 
The BJP Parliamentary Board went into a huddle in Delhi that night and said later that the party did not wish to see mid-term elections in Bihar and would like to ensure stability in the state. It said a three-member committee of the party in Bihar would advise the party's leadership about the future course of action.
 
Shortly thereafter, MLAs of the JD (U) and the BJP started gathering at Mr. Kumar's residence. Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi told journalists here  on Wednesday night that the BJP had decided to support the JD (U) in formation of a new government and also join it.
 
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Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Yadav addressed a press conference at which he said Tejashwi Yadav, 28, would not resign from his position, arguing that the case filed against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier this month was a "fake case".
 
Mr. Kumar said that he had tried his best to run the state government and adhere to the "coalition dharma" but a stage had been reached where he found that he could not continue in office without straying from his principles.
 
He said he had never asked for Tejashwi's resignation but had asked him and Mr. Yadav that they must give a public explanation about the charges against them.
 
He said he had raised this issue with Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi at their meeting in New Delhi some days ago. He regretted that there was no response from any of them.
 
"The atmosphere had become such that it was impossible to work. My conscience told me to resign," he had said.
 
But there were enough indications that Mr. Kumar was cosying up to the BJP in recent months, as seen by his support for the Centre's demonetisation move and his decision to back the BJP-led NDA's candidate Ram Nath Kovind, who was the Governor of Bihar until then, in the Presidential election.
 
On July 7, the CBI had conducted raids at the residence and other premises of Mr. Yadav and others in five cities in connection with a case registered by it on July 5 against them for alleged irregularities in the award of tender for managing two IRCTC hotels in 2006.
 
NNN
 
 
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