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Nitish Kumar to be Sworn-in as Bihar Chief Minister on Monday

Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Nov 15: Nitish Kumar will be sworn-in as the chief minister of Bihar for the fourth consecutive term on Monday.

After being elected the leader of the NDA by all its partners, Nitish drove to the Raj-Bhavan to call on the governor Phagu Chauhan and staked his claim to form the government and was promptly invited to take the oath of office. He has fixed 4 P.M. on Monday for taking the oath of office and secrecy.

Talking to media persons after his return from the Raj-Bhavan, Kumar said in addition to the 125 members elected to the 243-member House, an independent had also extended support to the NDA. He, however, did not indicate who else, if any, would take oath with him tomorrow or what would be the size of the cabinet.

The JD(U) sources, however, said Sushil Modi, the deputy chief minister in the outgoing House was also likely to take oath with Kumar on Monday. Swearing-in of some other ministers along with Kumar was also not ruled out considering that the chief minister-elect told media persons that “a meeting of the cabinet” would be held after the oath taking ceremony to decide future course of action including finalizing dates for convening the new House.

“The Governor was handed over the letter of support from all four constituents of the NDA. As per his direction, we shall be taking oath at the Raj Bhavan, tomorrow, around 4- 4.30 P.M”, said Kumar.

Earlier, the NDA partners which met on Sunday at the CM’s official residence in Patna, unanimously chose Nitish Kumar as the next chief minister of Bihar. The JD(U) sources said Kumar had expressed his reluctance to continue as the chief minister and offered to step down in favour of the BJP in view of his party’s poor showing in the elections in which the BJP emerged as the dominant partner. But the BJP leaders prevailed upon him to continue.

The meeting was attended by all the 125 newly-elected alliance MLAs comprising BJP, JD (U), HAM-S and VIP.  Hours before the meet the NDA meet, newly elected BJP legislators, who had emerged as the senior partner, had a meeting with state party chief Sanjay Jaiswal where it was decided to name Nitish Kumar as the leader of the NDA as the promise given by the prime minister Narendra Modi much before the elections.

In the recently concluded Bihar assembly elections, the BJP had won 74 seats, JD-U 43, while eight seats were won by two other NDA constituents. The NDA combined won 125 seats, which is three more than the majority mark in the 243-strong Bihar assembly. The RJD, led by 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats. The opposition alliance “Mahagathbandhan” won 110 seats.

The opposition Mahagathbandhan leader RJD, however, continued to criticize Kumar accepting the responsibility of the chief minister after his party JD(U) was virtually decimated in the elections. Taking a swipe at Nitish Kumar, RJD leader Manoj Jha said the people’s mandate was against him. “How can someone become Chief Minister after getting 40 seats? People’s mandate is against him, he is decimated and should decide on it. Bihar will find its alternative, which will be spontaneous. It might take a week, ten days, or a month but it will happen,” Jha said.

The JD(U)’s tally of 43 this time, down from 71, is its worst performance in more than a decade. In his first interaction with the media after the election results, Kumar said he never staked claim on the CM’s post. “I have made no claim on the CM chair, the decision will be taken by NDA, he had said.