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New Bihar govt wins trust vote; Nitish slams BJP, says Oppn trying to finish his party since 2020 state polls

The government won the trust motion with 160 votes in its favour and none against as the Opposition BJP, with a strength of 77 MLAs, staged a walkout before voting began.

Bihar | Nitish Kumar | Tejashwi Yadav | Bihar Assembly Floor TestBihar Assembly News, Nitish Kumar News: Lambasting the opposition, the Bihar CM said the BJP's "only task is to create disturbances in the society." (Express photo)

The new Grand Alliance government in Bihar won the trust vote with ease on Wednesday with JD(U) leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar launching a sharp attack against his former ally BJP, accusing it of “trying to finish” his party since the 2020 polls leading to his decision to break their tie-up. Nitish also said that he had “no ambition other than serving Bihar”.

The government won the trust motion with 160 votes in its favour and none against as the BJP, with a strength of 77 MLAs, staged a walkout before voting began. All the seven non-BJP parties in the Assembly voted in favour of the government. Four MLAs were not present in the House, which has a current strength of 242.

The session was presided over by Deputy Speaker Maheshwar Hazari after Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha, a senior BJP leader, resigned from the post before the vote.

With the trust motion held in the backdrop of the CBI raids against RJD leaders, Nitish’s speech targeted the “current leadership” of the BJP, saying that its previous leaders A B Vajpayee, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi used to “like me, care for me and listened to me”.

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In contrast, he said, the current BJP leadership did not even concede the state’s “simple demand” to grant Central university status to Patna University. He recalled that the Vajpayee-led NDA-I government had approved the proposal for converting the Bihar College of Engineering into the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in a special Union Cabinet meeting.

Without naming anyone, Nitish said the BJP’s present leadership “does little except prachar prasar (publicity)… Yeh cheez kya hain (What is this?)”

Detailing his reasons for quitting the NDA on August 9, Nitish Kumar said: “I could sense even during the poll campaign of 2020 that things had been working against me… Kisko khada kar diya (who was pitted against me),” Nitish said, without naming Chirag Paswan whose party LJP had fielded candidates against the JD(U) in almost all of the seats.

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Nitish said he had decided to part ways with NDA earlier in 2013 after “feeling uncomfortable” in the alliance after the Vajpayee-Advani era. “We returned to the NDA in 2017 after Tejashwi (Prasad Yadav) faced corruption charges. But what happened to that case? It has been five years now,” he said.

Citing other points of discord, he said, “Everyone knows that Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal is a state government programme and the Centre launched it later. But we were being pressured to take money spent on the programme and declare it a Central government scheme. We refused to do so.”

Referring indirectly to the tussle over the continuance of JD(U)’s R C P Singh as Union minister, Nitish said, “Humein dabane ki koshish ho rahi thi (There were attempts to stifle us)… Woh chah rahe thhe hum khatam ho jaaye (They wanted to see us finished)… After the 2020 poll results, we were told Nand Kishore Yadav (JDU) would become Speaker but someone else was made. Our old friends like (BJP leaders) Sushil Kumar Modi, Prem Kumar and some others, too, were not made (state) ministers.”

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Nitish alleged that the BJP had made R C P Singh work against the JD(U). Singh had to quit as Union minister after failing to receive the JD(U)’s backing for another Rajya Sabha term.

Reiterating his commitment to remain with the Grand Alliance, Nitish said: “There is no question now of going anywhere. After I walked out of the NDA, I got calls from all over the country praising my decision… These people (BJP) are celebrating the 75th year of the country’s Independence. Had they taken part in the freedom struggle? They are trying to foment trouble in society. We need to remain united…. We will fight together…. I have no personal ambition. I want to work for Bihar.”

The Chief Minister also spoke indirectly on questions raised against IT Minister Mohammed Israil Mansuri’s visit to the Vishnupad temple in Gaya recently. “When the BJP was with us, even they had got some Muslim votes in Gaya. Now they are talking nonsensical things,” he said.

In his speech, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav asked the BJP to explain how it was that when Nitish Kumar is with BJP, it is “mangalraj (good governance)” and when he is with RJD, it becomes “jungleraj”. He said the RJD’s tie-up with Nitish Kumar would be “very long” and “break all records of good governance”.

He said socialists “were not ones to be cowed down”. “The BJP has two strategies, scare them or buy them over. But we are not at all afraid,” he said.

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Reacting to a BJP leader’s comment on taking away the voting rights of Muslims, Tejashwi said, “No one can take away the voting rights of Muslims.”

On joining hands again with Nitish, he said they had only two options: see “social despair rise” or join hands to “salvage” the country of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and other great leaders. “Joh dar gaya, woh marega; joh ladega, woh jeetega (Those who get scared will die, those who fight will win),” he said.

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Speaking in the House, BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad said Nitish Kumar “might well be nursing a PM ambition but his party never succeeded in coming to power in Bihar on its own”.

Earlier, BJP leader Vijay Kumar Sinha resigned as Speaker before the trust vote after refuting the RJD’s allegations of being “autocratic” in the House. He also expressed regret at the manner in which a no-confidence resolution had been moved against him. RJD’s Awadh Bihari Choudhary is expected to be chosen as the new Speaker on August 26.

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The BJP later named Sinha as its Legislature Party leader. Sinha, a Bhumihar leader who is only the third upper caste politician to hold this position, will be Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.

OBC Kushwaha leader and former minister Samrat Choudhary will be Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council. Sources said Samrat, who was vocal against Nitish in the previous government, has been chosen by the BJP to split the Chief Minister’s core OBC Koeri-Kurmi constituency.

First published on: 24-08-2022 at 05:38:32 pm
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