NEW DELHI, Feb 12: The Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar who shifted his Janata Dal (United) to the NDA camp to form a new government with the support of the BJP, won the trust vote in the state Assembly on Monday with 130 votes in voter in 243-member House as the entire opposition walked out of the House before the trust vote.
Besides all the JD(U) and the BJP members voted in favour of the new government, it also secured three votes from the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ranks as three of its members Chetan Anand, Neelam Devi and Prahlad Yadav switched sides and were seen sitting among members of the ruling NDA, ahead of voting on a no-confidence motion against Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary.
Before the Trust vote, the “Mahagathbandhan” of the RJD-Congress and left parties lost the no-confidence motion in the speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary who belonged to the RJD. Mr Chaudhary had refused to step down after his party lost power a fortnight ago when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar snapped ties with ‘Mahagathbandhan’ and returned to the BJP-led coalition.
BJP MLA Nandkishore Yadav moved the no-confidence motion against the Speaker. The motion received the support of 125 MLAs, while 112 members voted against it in the 243-strong assembly. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav the former deputy chief minister, had raised a point of order, taking objection to his three party MLAs sitting with the NDA members, but no ruling was given on the point of order by Deputy Speaker Maheshwar Hazari, who was in the Chair and conducted the remaining proceedings of the House after the removal of Mr Chaudhary from the speaker’s post.
Mr Nitish Kumar took oath as the chief minister for the ninth time last month after dumping the “Mahagathbandhan” saying the mahagathbandhan – the alliance the RJD – was “not right”. Sources, however, said he was more upset about the lack of the INDIA bloc’s poll prep. He was reportedly also upset over being snubbed as a possible PM face. As a result, Nitish Kumar ditched the mahagathbandhan and INDIA and formed a new government with the BJP. Often mocked as “paltu Kumar”, for his many flip-flops, the Bihar Chief Minister met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi last week, after which he said he would “never” again leave the party-led NDA.
Earlier in the day, there was high drama after Nitish Kumar formally sought the Assembly’s support. A furious Tejashwi Yadav unleashed a barrage of sarcastic taunts and swipes at his former ally, reminding his new partner – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the of the BJP of his “Paltu Kumar” label. “Can PM Modi ‘guarantee’ he won’t flip again?” Mr Yadav asked to cheers of approval from party members. Mr Yadav also demanded Nitish Kumar explain his actions to the people of Bihar.
Mr Yadav tore into Nitish Kumar over his latest flip-flop as the Bihar Chief Minister listened patiently before seeking a trust vote in the assembly. Nitish Kumar, who ended his alliance with the Lalu Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) this January, has to prove his strength in the House after he returned to the top post with the BJP’s support.
“When you came out of Raj Bhavan after resigning last time, you said you weren’t ‘enjoying it’… are we there to entertain you? We were there to support you,” he raged. “… He said Mr Kumar has scripted history by taking oath (as chief minister) for nine consecutive times. “But that he took oath thrice in a single term is something we had never seen before,” he added.
Stating that he isn’t aware of the compulsions that forced him to ditch the Mahagathbandhan, which comprised the JDU, RJD, and Congress, Mr Yadav said the people of Bihar want to know why he keeps changing sides. “Ask any child in Bihar if he trusts Nitish ji. I can’t even say the words that they will use,” said Mr Yadav.
Mr Yadav also hit out at the decision to award former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur mentor to Nitish Kumar and RJD patriarch Lalu Prasad Yadav suggesting the honour was part of a “deal.” “I am happy Karpoori Thakur got Bharat Ratna. They (the BJP) made a deal… ‘come with us and we will give you (the JDU) a Bharat Ratna’…” Tejashwi Yadav declared.
Mr Thakur was an iconic socialist leader who was Chief Minister twice in the 1970s, and is credited with implementing the state’s contentious alcohol prohibition policy. Still remembered today as ‘jan nayak‘, or ‘leader of the people’, Karpoori Thakur’s legacy remains a valuable asset for political parties today. After Mr Yadav’s speech his RJD, the Congress, and the Left Front – all former allies of Nitish Kumar’s erstwhile government – walked out of the Assembly.
Nitish Kumar’s quitting of INDIA has left the bloc – formed last year to unite the opposition and defeat the BJP – on the verge of breaking up, after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Aam Aadmi Party both said they intend to go their own way, for now.
Mr Kumar has switched alliances five times since 2013, remaining the Chief Minister throughout. “Will Modi ji take guarantee he won’t switch again,” Mr Tejashwi wondered, pointing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “guarantee” assurances. “Jab samay ayega, tab Tejashwi ayega (when time comes, Tejashwi will be here),” declared the 34-year-old scion of the Yadav family, adding, “We don’t want tired people, but we know the compulsions.”
Mr Yadav calls himself as the “nephew” of Nitish Kumar. “We are all from the same Samajwadi family,” he says recollecting the earlier Janata Dal days. “You wanted to end Modiji’s rule, your nephew will now fulfill it,” he said. He also used Ramayana context to target the Chief Minister. He said Mr Kumar often refers to him as a son and he too regards him as a guardian and a father like Dasrath. “Maybe he had compulsions, just like King Dasrath had when he sent Ram to the forest. Dasrath never wanted that, but Kaikeyi did. We want to you remain the Chief Minister and fulfil the promises you made. But also identify the Kaikeyi around you,” Mr Yadav said with the Ramayana context.
Congress MLA Dr Shakeel Ahmad Khan says, “…Despite winning, their (BJP-JDU) heads are hanging in shame, they have no answer to any questions…When politics is done with deceit and deception and without ideology, then this happens…”