Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar was on Monday sworn in as the chief minister of Bihar for a fourth term. Bharatiya Janata Party’s Renu Kumari and Tarkishore Prasad took oath as the deputy chief ministers of the state.
Others who were sworn in include, Vijendra Yadav, Vijay Choudhary, Ashok Choudhary, Mewalal Choudhary of the Janata Dal (United), BJP leaders Mangal Pandey and Rampreet Paswan, Santosh Manjhi of the Hindustani Awam Morcha, and Mukesh Sahani of the Vikassheel Insaan Party. Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan administered the oaths.
Although this is Kumar’s fourth term as the chief minister, it is the seventh time he has been sworn in to the top post. He was elected as the chief minister for the first time in 2000. He was then re-elected in 2005 and 2010. He resigned in 2014 but was sworn in again in just nine months as the chief minister for the fourth time. In 2015, he joined hands with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and was sworn in to the top post. The alliance did not last long with Kumar resigning as the chief minister. He was sworn in 2017 for the sixth time when he returned with old ally, the BJP.
Kumar’s oath-taking ceremony came a day after he was unanimously chosen to be the chief minister by the National Democratic alliance. BJP MLA from Katihar Tarkishore Prasad, on the other hand, was elected as the leader of BJP’s legislature party on Sunday.
On Prasad’s appointment as the Bihar deputy chief minister, Kumar told ANI: “It is the decision of the BJP to not field Sushil Modi as the deputy chief minister. They should be asked about this.” The chief minister also said that the NDA would work together and serve the people of Bihar.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, also the BJP’s in-charge for the Bihar polls, dismissed rumours that Sushil Modi was upset over not being appointed the deputy chief minister of the state. “Sushil Modi Ji is not at all upset,” Fadnavis told ANI. “He is an asset to us. Party will think about him, [and] a new responsibility will be given to him.”
He added that the National Democratic Alliance government in Bihar would last for the next five years and take the state forward.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Kumar after he was sworn in. “I also congratulate all those who took oath as Ministers in the Bihar government,” he tweeted. “The NDA family will work together for the progress of Bihar. I assure all possible support from the Centre for the welfare of Bihar.”
Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan also extended his congratulations to the newly appointed ministers. “The new government will realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a self-reliant Bihar,” he tweeted. “All Biharis desire the improvement of the state’s situation.”
The Rashtriya Janata Dal, meanwhile, boycotted the oath-taking ceremony and repeated its allegations of election fraud. “Ask the unemployed, farmers, contract workers, employed teachers of Bihar what they are feeling,” the party had tweeted earlier in the day. “The public is agitated by the fraud of the NDA. We are the people’s representative and stand with the public.”
Yadav’s party also claimed that the state was getting a “helpless government by the two helpless parties”. Bihar will have a “Chief Minister who has been proven weak, idle and corrupt,” RJD added. “And a senior partner [BJP] who has no [chief ministerial] face and is forced to resort to dubious means [for earning majority].”
The party also mocked Kumar for reportedly saying that he did not want to become chief minister but was insisted by the BJP to continue in the post. “I did not want to become chief minister because my party came third and also I was tired, but, several BJP leaders grabbed my feet, started crying and pleading before me,” RJD said in a sarcastic tweet. “I, being a soft-hearted, power-hungry mendicant, was moved. How could I annoy them.”
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On Thursday, Kumar had said that the decision on who will be the next chief minister will finally rest with the alliance. However, there were reports suggesting that Kumar had expressed his “unwillingness” to continue as the chief minister following his party’s worst showing in 15 years.
The NDA returned to power in Bihar with a slender majority. The coalition won 125 seats in the 243-member State Assembly. The Opposition Grand Alliance bagged 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.
Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation, which has bagged 12 seats as a member of the opposition alliance, also decided to skip the oath-ceremony. “We have been fighting against them [the NDA] so how come we can be part of their crowning,” CPI-ML State Secretary Kunal told PTI. Congress, which could win only a dismal 19 seats, too, said it would give the ceremony a miss.