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Friday, November 27, 2020

Nitish Kumar takes oath as Bihar CM for fourth straight term, RJD skips ceremony

While Nitish Kumar will continue as the chief minister, Sushil Modi has been dropped as the deputy chief minister this time.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 16, 2020 9:12:34 pm
Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan congratulates Nitish Kumar after taking oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar at Raj Bhawan in Patna (PTI)

Nitish Kumar was sworn in as Bihar chief minister for a fourth straight term on Monday at a ceremony in Patna in presence of Union Home minister Amit Shah and BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda even as RJD decided to boycott the event. Replacing Sushil Modi, who had been Kumar’s deputy for 15 years, BJP leaders Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi took oath as the Deputy Chief Ministers of Bihar.

Kumar, along with a 14-member council of ministers, was administered the oath of office at Raj Bhavan by Governor Phagu Chauhan, a day after the JD(U) chief staked claim for the formation of a new government in the state.

Among those who took oath, five ministers were from the JD(U) while one each was from Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP). JD(U) ministers included old hands like Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Ashok Choudhary and Vijay Kumar Chaudhary besides new faces Mewa Lal Chaudhary and Sheela Kumari Mandal.

Other than the two Deputy CM designates, those from the BJP included Mangal Pandey, who held the Health portfolio in the previous government, and Amarendra Pratap Singh, Ramprit Paswan, Jibesh Kumar and Ram Surat Rai. HAM MLC Santosh Kumar Suman, son of Jitan Ram Manjhi, also took oath besides Mukesh Sahni, the founder of VIP.

While Tarkishore Prasad belongs to the same Bania community as Sushil Modi, the BJP hopes to send a message to women, who are believed to have voted in larger numbers for the party than the men, with the selection of Renu Devi, who is a Nonia. She earlier served as BJP national vice-president.

After taking oath, Nitish said, “Based on the public’s decision, NDA has once again formed the government in the state. We will work together and serve the people”. On Sushil Modi not returning as his deputy, 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.”

Janta Dal-United National President Nitish Kumar after taking oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar at Raj Bhawan in Patna (PTI)

There was no official word from the BJP, though sources said Sushil Modi might be accommodated in the Rajya Sabha in the seat that has fallen vacant with Ram Vilas Paswan’s death, and made a minister at the Centre, or named the Governor of a state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the NDA family would together for progress of Bihar. “Congratulations to Nitish Kumar on taking oath as Bihar’s CM. I also congratulate all those who took oath as Ministers in Bihar Government. NDA family will work together for progress of Bihar. I assure all possible support from Centre for the welfare of Bihar,” Modi tweeted.

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Congratulating Nitish Kumar on being “nominated” as CM, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said, “I hope that instead of his desire for the chair, he will focus on the aspirations of Bihar’s people, and make the NDA’s promises of 19 lakh jobs, providing education opportunities, health and irrigation facilities his priority.”

Earlier in the day, RJD had put out a statement on its twitter handle announcing that they would boycott the ceremony as “the public gave the mandate to change which is against the NDA.” “RJD boycotts the swearing-in ceremony. The mandate for change was against NDA. The mandate has been changed into government order. As the unemployed youth, farmers, contract workers, teachers what they are going through. People are upset with the fraud committed by NDA. We are people’s representatives and we stand with people,” said RJD, the single largest party of Bihar.

Chirag Paswan, whose party LJP left the NDA just ahead of the elections owing to “ideological differences” with JD(U), said he hoped Nitish Kumar remained an “NDA chief minister”, in a dig at the JD(U) chief. “Congratulations to Nitish Kumar on becoming the chief minister again. I hope the government completes its term and you continue to remain an NDA chief minister,” Paswan tweeted. “Once again I congratulate you on becoming chief minister and the BJP on making you one,” he said.

In the House of 243, the NDA got 125 seats, with BJP getting 74, JD (U) 43 and allies VIP and HAM(S) four seats each. The JD(U)’s tally of 43 this time, down from 71, is its worst performance since the 2005 Assembly polls. Kumar had on Friday said that he did not wish to stay as chief minister but it is the wish of the BJP.

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