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After swearing in, Nitish Kumar faces heat at home

Some JD(U) MPs express displeasure over decision to ally with the BJP

Satyavrat Mishra & Archis Mohan  |  Patna/New Delhi 

Nitish Kumar with senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushil Kumar Modi at an oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhawan in Patna on Thursday. Modi will be deputy chief minister . Photo: PTI
Nitish Kumar with senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushil Kumar Modi at an oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhawan in Patna on Thursday. Modi will be deputy chief minister . Photo: PTI

took oath as the chief minister of for the sixth time on Thursday — with the support of old ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sushil Kumar Modi, who had served as finance minister in the previous Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in the state (2005-2013), was sworn-in as Nitish’s deputy.

His Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), has 10 Rajya Sabha and two Lok Sabha members. It will be accommodated in the Union council of ministers; on offer are a Cabinet berth and one or two ministers of state.

Soon after the swearing-in ceremony in Patna, Nitish thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet: “There will be no compromise with corruption. I have faith that the state’s development would gather pace with the support of the Centre.”

is in need of central funds after the state government imposed a liquor ban in April 2016, leading to a reported revenue loss of about ~3,000 crore. JD(U) leader K C Tyagi, however, dismissed the speculation that this was one of the reasons why Kumar parted ways with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress.

On Wednesday evening, Nitish had quit as CM, hours before reclaiming stake to form the government with the BJP. The reason he cited was the refusal of his former deputy and RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s son Tejashwi to explain his position in a disproportionate assets case. 
Within the JD(U), however, there were winds of a mutiny, according to sources.

Several party leaders, opposed to Kumar’s “unilateral” move of aligning with the BJP, met at the former Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav’s house in New Delhi.

Sources said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who has known Sharad Yadav since 1974, reached out to his “old friend”. Jaitley had met Yadav on Wednesday night as well. Jaitley also spoke over the phone with Nitish on Thursday morning. 
It isn’t known if Yadav has been offered a Cabinet berth yet. JD (U) leaders such as its Kerala unit chief M P Veerendra Kumar and Ali Anwar, both Rajya Sabha members, were part of the meeting with Yadav. Anwar said his conscience does not allow him to support Kumar’s move; Rajya Sabha term ends in April.
Later, party office bearer Arun Srivastava said Yadav plans to consult party’s state unit chiefs before deciding his future course of action. The JD(U) plans to hold its executive meeting in New Delhi on August 19.

A JD (U) leader said Kumar was in direct contact with the PM and BJP chief Amit Shah, but the alliance could have been saved if RJD chief Prasad had agreed to persuade Tejashwi to quit. He said the Congress failed to intervene on Kumar’s behalf and supported the RJD chief. 

The leader also said no decision had been taken on the party’s support to Opposition vice-presidential candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi. The JD (U) has supported the NDA’s presidential candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, but decided to support Gandhi. The polling is scheduled for August 5.

In more trouble for the RJD chief and his family, the Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case against them in a corruption case.

In Patna, Nitish will have to win a trust vote in the Legislative Assembly on Friday. His new government has called a special session to prove its majority.

Nobody from the RJD or the Congress attended his swearing-in, protesting the “denial of chance” to the RJD. Prasad has decided to appeal in the Supreme Court against the state governor’s decision to invite Kumar to form the government.

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