Nitish Kumar to take oath as new Bihar CM on Nov 20

Wednesday 18th November 2015 05:35 EST

Legislators of Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) elected Nitish Kumar as their leader in the assembly, paving the way for him to become the chief minister yet again. Nitish, who led the Grand Alliance to a victory in assembly elections, was later elected leader of the legislature party of the three-member grouping that also includes the RJD and the Congress.

His election as the JD-U legislature party leader came two hours after he submitted his resignation to Governor Ramnath Kovind. "This formality is now over," JD-U state president Vashsisht Narain Singh said.

Earlier, Nitish Kumar met the governor, submitted his resignation and said the cabinet had decided to dissolve the outgoing assembly. The governor urged him to continue as caretaker chief minister till a new government is formed. According to JD-U leaders, Nitish Kumar will take oath as chief minister on 20 November along with a 36-member council of ministers.

The RJD emerged as the single largest party with 80 assembly seats, followed by the JD-U with 71 and the Congress with 27 seats.

There will be 16 ministers from Lalu Prasad's RJD, 15 from the JD-U and five from the Congress in the new government.

NDA suffers major defeat

Earlier, Nitish Kumar led the `secular' Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance to a landslide win over BJP-led NDA, avenging the humiliation Modi had inflicted on him in the Lok Sabha polls. This is the saffron alliance's second straight defeat - both crushing, but this one a lot more significant - after Delhi in February.

MGB's stunning victory, besides whetting the anti-BJP opposition's appetite for confrontation, represents a vote of confidence in Nitish's governance during his decade-long stint as chief minister and could spur efforts to form Bihar-type `secular' coalitions in other states.

The win on the eve of Diwali also marked a spectacular comeback for Lalu Prasad, who had been in the political doldrums after suffering decisive defeats in consecutive state and central polls. After finishing third with a paltry 22 seats in the last elections, he has emerged as the single largest player in the 243-strong House with a tally of 80.

While Nitish, who like Lalu is also an OBC (Other Backward Caste; he's a Kurmi), projected development with social justice, the flamboyant Yadav chieftain unabashedly turned it into a backward vs forward caste struggle. The win for Nitish, who now has a strong claim to be projected as the `secular' PM candidate in 2019, may signal the beginning of the campaign for the next Lok Sabha polls, besides making things tougher for the government in Parliament. Lalu and Nitish as well as Rahul Gandhi, whose Congress rode on the coattails of the two Mandal warriors to return an astonishing high tally of 27 - the best since 1995 when it won 29 - all talked of a soon-to-be launched campaign against the Centre.

Worst show by BJP in state in 10 years

With 53 seats this time around, BJP's seat share is its lowest in the last three Bihar assemblies. Ironically, JD(U)'s 71 seats are also its worst show since the October/November elections in 2005. RJD's 80 seats is its best performance since the state was divided in 2000. Cong put up its best show since 1995.

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