JUSTIFYING his decision to split the alliance that had won him a mandate and go with the BJP, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who won the trust vote Friday, said that secularism cannot be used as “cover for accumulation of wealth and corruption”.
To signal what he thought were his secular credentials, he said that even when he had been with NDA, he carried out several welfare schemes for minorities such as scholarship scheme for students, allowance for divorcees and fencing of cemeteries and also re-opened 1989 Bhagalpur riots case during his first term as NDA CM.
Nitish Kumar won the trust vote with 131 MLAs voting in his favour and 108 against him. Nitish needed 122 votes to sail through in House of 243. BJP and JD (U) have 124 MLAs, RLSP, HAM (S) and LJP have five MLAs. Two Independents including Mokama MLA Anant Singh also voted in Nitish’s favour. Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary rejected Opposition leaders’ demand for secret vote citing precedence of lobby division. His request turned down, leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad walked out with his MLAs before the Speaker announced the trust vote in Nitish’s favour.
Nitish Kumar, who faced a volley of questions from Tejashwi, said: “I would offer pointwise rebuttal to everything that was said about me in this House and outside it… I wonder at the arrogance of such people on how they dismiss identity of my party. Power should not be used for self-aggrandisement. I do not approve of secularism that is used as cover for corruption and property accumulation”, said Nitish.
The Chief Minister also reminded the RJD of 2010 Assembly results when the party had been reduced to 22 seats. He also reminded Congress of its original position in state politics and how he got 27 seats in 2015 polls because of his face. “Whatever decision I took was in interest of people of Bihar and for progress of the state. It is a happy coincidence that there are now the same set of governance in Bihar and at Centre, something that would boost progress of the state”, said Nitish.
Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, who also faced flak from Tejashwi, said: “The 2015 mandate was not for engaging in corruption. We knew from the beginning that Nitish Kumar had been uncomfortable in the Grand Alliance. How could he work with a party that had someone like Mohammed Shahabuddin and rape-accused MLA Rajballabh Yadav? We knew that Nitish Kumar would not compromise on matters of corruption”.
BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav took on Tejashwi for saying that “youth of Bihar had been in anger” at dismantling of Grand Alliance. “Tejashwiji is right when he says youths are agitated. the youth want to know how the 28-year-old Tejashwi accumulated wealth worth crores without doing much. People are agitated because Lalu Prasad traveled from a peon’s quarters to his present position of unaccounted wealth”.