Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar will be sworn in as the chief minister of Bihar on Monday evening, ending speculation about a change in the position for him after an election that saw his clout diminish considerably in the state. Fourteen other ministers will take oath along with him, NDTV reported.
This came a day after the National Democratic Alliance unanimously elected Kumar as its leader in the state legislature, paving the way for his return as chief minister for the fourth consecutive term. Shortly after the announcement, Kumar met Governor Phagu Chauhan in Patna to stake claim to form the new government. Later in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Katihar Tarkishore Prasad was elected the leader of BJP’s legislature party.
Vijendra Yadav, Vijay Choudhary, Ashok Choudhary, Mewalal Choudhary and Sheela Mandal from Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), and BJP leaders Mangal Pandey and Rampreet Paswan are among the 14 ministers who will be inducted into the new Cabinet. Santosh Manjhi of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), and Mukesh Mallah of the Vikassheel Insaan Party will also be sworn in.
Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah are expected to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the JD(U) chief, which will be held at 4.30 pm in Patna, according to the Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, led by 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, said they would boycott the oath-taking ceremony. The party reiterated claims of voter fraud and claimed that the mandate had been against the NDA. “Ask the unemployed, farmers, contract workers, employed teachers of Bihar what they are feeling,” the party tweeted. “The public is agitated by the fraud of the NDA. We are the people’s representative and stand with the public.”
Though nearly all exit polls unanimously went in the favour of the Opposition’s Mahagathbandan as opposed to the National Democratic Alliance, the NDA emerged victorious on November 10 with a slim 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 Yadav, was the single-largest party with 75 seats.
The Bharatiya Janata Party one-upped its ally for the first time in the state by winning 74 seats to emerge as the larger party in the alliance. Kumar, on the other hand, saw his clout diminish as the JD(U)’s numbers came down to 43 from 71 in 2015. This was its worst performance since the 2005 Assembly polls.
The BJP has never ruled Bihar on its own. But with the results giving the saffron party leverage, there was speculation about a shift in the balance of power in Kumar’s fourth term.
The BJP is likely to insist on having a greater share in the council of ministers and have one of its members as the Speaker, a post which has been with Kumar’s party ever since he took over a decade and a half ago. Sushil Modi, who has served as Kumar’s deputy for major part of his tenure so far, is likely to take the post of Speaker in the Bihar Assembly, unidentified officials told News18
Unidentified officials told NDTV that Kumar is likely to have two deputies from BJP instead of one. Prasad, who has already been named the leader of the BJP’s legislature party, and Renu Devi are likely to be the new deputies to the chief minister.
Kumar had on Thursday said that the alliance would take a decision on the next chief minister. However, there were reports suggesting that Kumar has expressed his “unwillingness” to continue as the chief minister following his party’s worst showing in 15 years.