NATIONAL

Nitish promises "good governance"

CAMARADARIE TIME: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after he was sworn in, with Governor Buta Singh in Patna on Thursday. — PHOTO: PTI  

Special Correspondent

PATNA: Senior Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar took over as the Chief Minister of Bihar on Thursday in front of a huge cheering crowd.

As he performed the ritual of administering the oath of office to Mr. Kumar and 26 Ministers, Bihar Governor Buta Singh passed on the business of administration to a democratically elected Government, thus bringing to an end the eight-and-a-half month-old President's rule on the State. It also heralded a new political equation at the helm of affairs.

The former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP president L.K. Advani, JD (U) chief George Fernandes, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babu Lal Gaur, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Akali Dal leader Prakash Singh Badal and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee were present on the occasion.

The crowd at the historic Gandhi Maidan, where the swearing-in ceremony was held, shouted slogans against the Governor, asking him to resign for dissolving the Assembly after the last elections.

Ransacked

Some BJP workers ransacked the State party office here and beat up several persons protesting the non-inclusion in the Cabinet of Navin Kishore Prasad Sinha, a four-time MLA from Patna.

After the oath taking ceremony, BJP workers let loose their anger on their own leaders. They gheraoed State unit chief S.K. Modi, who was inducted as a Cabinet Minister and was set to take over as the Deputy Chief Minister.

There were scenes of resentment at the BJP party office on Wednesday, when supporters of Ashwini Chaubey protested against Mr. Modi's selection for the post of Deputy Chief Minister. On Thursday, Mr. Sinha's supporters gheraoed a posh hotel where several top BJP leaders were staying and threatened revolt if they did not rectify the mistake. During his first informal interaction with the press after assuming office, Mr. Kumar declined to comment on the dissent and was against the issue being blown up.

Representative ministry

In Mr. Kumar's opinion, the new Ministry with 16 Cabinet and 10 Ministers of State was a good one in which all sections of the society had been given representation. He denied knowledge that one of his Ministers, Jitan Ram Manjhi, was allegedly tainted.

Notwithstanding the fact that both Mr. Kumar and Mr. Modi, being MPs, would have to become a member of either of the two Houses of the Bihar Legislature, two others who are not members of either the lower or the upper house were inducted as Cabinet Ministers.

They are Narendra Singh, the former Lok Jan Shakti Party State chief, and Ramashray Prasad Singh, the former LJP legislature party leader, both of whom had defected to the JD (U).

The induction of Ramashray Prasad Singh was a matter of debate within the JD (U) for the reason that he had lost the election. Narendra Singh, on the other hand, had not contested the elections, giving the ticket to his son A. Singh who emerged victorious.

Altogether, four "defectors" were rewarded with a ministerial berth. The former LJP leader Nagmani, who joined the JD (U) following Ram Vilas Paswan's refusal to extend support to Mr. Kumar to form the government, succeeded in getting his wife Suchitra Sinha a place in the Cabinet.

The former Chief Minister, Jagannath Mishra and JD (U) MP Arun Kumar secured favours for their son and brother, Nitish Mishra and Anil Kumar respectively.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Kumar promised to ensure "good governance" shorn of partiality in his bid to develop infrastructure and improve law and order to attract investment. He referred to his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday and was hopeful that he would receive the necessary assistance in bringing about a turn in the fortunes of the State.