The National Democratic Alliance on Sunday named Janata Dal (United)’s Nitish Kumar the chief minister of Bihar, ANI reported. The decision was taken at a meeting of NDA allies in Patna.
Besides the JD(U), the NDA comprises the Bharatiya Janata Party, Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha, and Mukesh Sahani’s Vikassheel Insaan Party. Both the smaller parties were with the Opposition in last year’s Lok Sabha elections.
On Sunday afternoon, Kumar reached the Raj Bhavan to stake claim to form the government, ANI reported. “The oath ceremony will take place tomorrow [Monday] afternoon,” Kumar told reporters, according to NDTV. “The governor was informed of the NDA’s decision and we submitted the letter of support of MLAs. We will talk and decide who all will take the oath. After the ceremony, the Cabinet will decide when the House will convene.”
After an election that remained too close to call till the end, the ruling National Democratic Alliance was back in power in Bihar with a slender majority. The coalition won 125 seats in the 243-member State Assembly. The Opposition Grand Alliance clinched 110. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, led by 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats.
Quite significantly, the Janata Dal (United) has, for the first time in Bihar, won fewer seats than the BJP, pulling in just 43 to the BJP’s 74. This was JD(U)’s worst performance since the 2005 Assembly polls.
While trends suggest that Kumar has held on to his traditional support base, the Assembly poll results this time have raised a question on his stature. Experts believe that after emerging the dominant partner, the BJP might reconsider Bihar’s chief ministerial pick. Saffron leaders, however, had asserted that Kumar remains their choice as the next chief minister of Bihar as per “the party’s commitment”.
On Thursday, Kumar said that the decision on who will be the next chief minister will be taken by the alliance. However, there are reports suggesting that Kumar has expressed his “unwillingness” to continue as the chief minister following his party’s worst showing in 15 years.
Meanwhile, RJD leader Yadav had challenged Kumar to “listen to his conscience and step down”.