Bihar CM Nitish Kumar wins trust vote amid walkout by BJP
In his speech in Bihar Vidhan Sabha, Nitish Kumar underscored the contrast between the era of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the current dispensation, which he said excelled only in publicity
The newly-formed 'Mahagathbandhan' government in Bihar on Wednesday comfortably won the motion of confidence amid a walkout staged by MLAs of the BJP which has been stripped of power as a result of the recent political upheaval in the state.
Deputy Speaker Maheshwar Hazari ordered a headcount upon a request by Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, the state Parliamentary Affairs Minister, who said that though a voice vote had clearly showed support of the majority, the count would leave no room for any confusion.
Altogether 160 MLAs voted in favour of the confidence motion while no vote was cast against the same. The lone MLA of AIMIM, Akhtarul Iman, whose party is not a part of the ruling alliance, supported the confidence motion. Some of the BJP MLAs, who had staged a walkout while Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was delivering a speech, stormed the House demanding that the Deputy Speaker not waste time on a “redundant headcount” but take up businesses scheduled for the day and announced boycott of the proceedings.
Proceedings were, subsequently, adjourned till Friday by the Deputy Speaker who also informed the House that on Thursday, nomination papers will be filed for election of a new Speaker, the post having fallen vacant upon resignation of BJP's Vijay Kumar Sinha.
In his speech that lasted for about half an hour, Nitish Kumar made indirect references to a rebellion mounted by LJP's Chirag Paswan against him, allegedly at BJP's behest, and attempts to cause a split in his party JD(U) through his former protege RCP Singh.
Kumar asserted that he had "no personal ambitions", rejecting the BJP's charge that his latest volte face was aimed at becoming the prime ministerial candidate of the Opposition camp. He, nonetheless, spoke of his interactions with leaders from across the country whom he has urged to stay united for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The JD(U) leader also recounted his old association with the BJP and underscored the contrast between the current dispensation and the era of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. Without mentioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi by name, he said the current dispensation does little except publicity ('prachar prasar').
As BJP MLAs protested, he added, “Speak against me. May be this will earn you some rewards from your political bosses”. Speaking during the debate on the motion of confidence, Tejashwi Yadav, chief of Rashtriya Janata Dal and deputy Chief Minister in the new government, said the new partnership will be “historic”. “This is a never-ending innings; it will be historic. Our partnership will be long. No one is going to be run out,” he said.
Referring to CBI conducting raids at homes of several RJD leaders just ahead of the trust vote in connection with a ‘land-for-jobs’ scam that allegedly took place when Lalu Yadav served as Union Railway minister, Tejashwi Yadav said, “Are you trying to say that all the property in the country belongs to Tejaswi Yadav? The person who brought the railways into profit is facing cases and those who are selling the railways and the country, nothing will happen to them”.
He also accused the BJP of using central investigating agencies whenever it is “scared”.
“A narrative is being created. If you join hands with the BJP, then you are Harishchandra (a king from mythology known for his honesty and truthfulness). Else you are a criminal, a rapist, and the ED and the CBI will be set after you," he said.
During the debate, the BJP's Tarakishore Prasad, ripped into Nitish Kumar, his former boss, saying he has lost “political credibility”. The former Deputy Chief Minister mocked Kumar's “personal ambition to become PM despite not having the ability to become the CM on his own steam”.
The trust vote was conducted days after Nitish Kumar expanded his cabinet, where the biggest chunk of seats went to Tejashwi Yadav's RJD.
Of the 31 ministers in the cabinet, the RJD has 16 while Nitish Kumar's JD(U) kept 11. Two Congress leaders, a leader of Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha and an Independent MLA have also become ministers.
Nitish Kumar took oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the eighth time on August 10, a day after he snapped ties with the BJP, after he reportedly got wind of the saffron party plotting a repeat of the ‘Maharashtra model’, which saw Uddhav Thackeray’s government being dismantled due to a rebellion by Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde who is now the Chief Minister.
(With PTI inputs)