The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar won the floor test in the Bihar Assembly on Monday with the support of 129 MLAs. Three legislators of the Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) voted in favour of the government amid a walkout by all non-NDA MLAs. The government needed the support of at least 122 MLAs to win the majority test in the the 243-member Assembly.
Ahead of the trust vote, Bihar Assembly Speaker and RJD leader Awadh Bihari Choudhary, who had earlier refused to resign, was removed with 125 MLAs voting in favour of the motion and 112 opposing it. Deputy Speaker Maheshwar Hazari of the JD(U) then chaired the House. After the House passed the resolution for the removal of the Speaker, Mr. Kumar moved the motion seeking trust vote for the new NDA government he had formed with the BJP on January 28. The motion was passed 129-0 through voice vote after the Opposition walked out from the House.
The NDA, comprising the BJP, Janata Dal (United), Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), and an Independent MLA, had support of 128 MLAs while the Opposition Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) of the RJD, Congress, and Left partieshad the support of 114 legislators. One MLA of Asaduddin Owaisi’s All Indian Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Akhtarul Iman, was undecided.
During the floor test, JD(U) member Dilip Kumar Ray was absent and party MLA Hazari did not vote as he was in the Chair. Three MLAs from RJD - Prahlad Yadav, Nilam Devi and Chetan Anand - switched sides to vote in favour of the NDA. Mr. Prahlad Yadav was a founder-member of the RJD and is a three-time MLA from Suryagraha Assembly constituency in Lakhisarai district. Ms. Devi had won the Assembly byelection from Mokama constituency in 2022 after her husband and bahubali (strongman) Anant Singh was disqualified. Mr. Anand is son of Anand Mohan Singh, another bahubali leader who was convicted in the Distract Magistrate G. Krishnaiah murder case. Mr. Singh was granted remission by the Bihar government last year.
A day before the floor test, the RJD had released a DVD showing Mr. Anand playing cricket inside RJD leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav’s residence. His younger brother Anshuman Anand had lodged a complaint with the Patliputra police station in Patna about not being “able to reach his brother”, following which a police team had visited Mr. Yadav’s residence late on Sunday night to locate him.
Senior BJP leader Nand Kishor Yadav is likely to be the new Speaker of the Assembly.
Before the trust motion, Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar addressed the joint session of the House amid occasional chants of “Jai Shri Ram” by BJP legislators. The Opposition RJD MLAs shouted slogans of “Tejashwi Yadav zindabad” when the Governor mentioned works done by departments such as Education and Health, held by RJD in the previous government.
On January 28, Mr. Kumar made his fifth major political U-turn in a decade, and joined hands with the BJP again to form the NDA government in the State. He took oath as Chief Minister for a record ninth time along with two Deputy CMs from BJP and six Ministers. He, however, has not expanded his Cabinet since then. There could be as many as 36 Ministers in his Cabinet in the 243-member Assembly. The Cabinet expansion may take place on February 19.
While speaking on the debate on the trust motion, Mr. Kumar slammed RJD leader Yadav while recalling the previous RJD regimes. “Before 2005, his [Mr. Yadav] father and mother got the chance to rule but what happened? No one dared to step out of their houses after sunset. Were there roads to move about?” asked Mr. Kumar. He further said, “They indulged in corrupt practices [kama rahe the ye log]. MLAs of the BJP and my party [JD(U)] were getting lucrative offers [from RJD] to switch sides [idhar-udhar]”. “I gave them respect but was in pain when I came to know about their corrupt practices”, asserted Mr. Kumar in his speech in the House.
Mr. Kumar who has been Chief Minister of the State since November 2005, said he ensured the State’s recovery after coming to power and also criticised Mr. Yadav for taking credit for the record number of recruitments during the Mahagathbandhan regime. “It was all part of my government’s idea of Saat Nischay [seven resolves] part 2”, Mr. Kumar said.
Earlier, Mr. Yadav had taken swipe at Mr. Kumar for his frequent “U-turns to remain Chief Minister of the State” and asked, “Would there be a Modi [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] guarantee that he won’t switch sides again?”. Mr. Yadav also unleashed a barrage of jibes and swipes at Mr. Kumar on several issues.