JD-U leader Nitish Kumar today returned as the Chief Minister of Bihar, nine months after he resigned, ending days of political drama following a bitter power struggle with Jitan Ram Manjhi who held the reins in between.
63-year-old Kumar, often described as ‘Chanakya’ of Bihar politics, was administered the oath of office by Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi at a glittering function at the Raj Bhawan to become the Chief Minister for the fourth time ahead of Assembly polls due towards the end of the year.
Besides Kumar, 22 ministers, including three women, were also administered the oath of office, all of whom who were his loyalists.
Of the 22 ministers, 20 had resigned from the Manjhi government as a mark of support to Kumar while two others, namely P K Shahi and Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, were sacked by the former chief minister.
Shortly after he took oath, Kumar thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for congratulating him on becoming Chief Minister and said political rivalry notwithstanding he would meet the PM and seek Centre-State cooperation for development of the state.
“Politically we can be face to face with each other. But, for development of Bihar I will have no hesitation to meet him and stress for healthy Centre-State cooperation,” Kumar told reporters.
“Congratulations & best wishes to Shri Nitish Kumar on being sworn-in as Bihar CM,” Modi had earlier tweeted.
Manjhi, who had refused to quit as chief minister to make way for Kumar in defiance of the party leadership, was among other dignitaries present. Kumar also shook hands with him.
The oath function served as a big anti-BJP platform with prominent leaders of parties opposed to BJP assembling in an apparent show of solidarity.
Besides leaders of core parties engaged in merger of old Janata Parivar, prominent leaders from Congress, TMC and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha of Babu Lal Marandi were present.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Chief Ministers of Assam, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh Tarun Gogoi, Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav, JD(U) President Sharad Yadav, INLD leader Abhay Chautala, Motilal Vohra, C P Joshi, Srikant Jena and Kripa Shankar Singh(all Congress), NCP’s Tariq Anwar and SJP’s Kamal Morarka were present.
Kumar said RJD President Lalu Prasad could not attend because of wedding of his youngest daughter and so was SP President Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose grandnephew Tej Pratap Yadav is getting married to her.
He said Congress President Sonia Gandhi extended warm greeting to him through a letter handed over to him by Vohra.
The new ministers are: Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Vijendra Prasad Yadav, Ramai Ram, Damodar Raut, Narendra Narayan Yadav, P.K. Shahi, Shyam Rajak, Awadesh Kushwaha, Lesie Singh, Dulal Chand Goswami, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, Shrawan Kumar, Ramlashan Ram Raman, Ramdhani Singh, Jai Kumar Singh, Manoj Kumar Singh, Javed Iqbal Ansari, Bima Bharti, Ranju Geeta, Baidyanath Sahni, Vinod Singh Yadav and Naushad Alam.
Kumar had quit as Chief Minister on May 17, 2014 over JD(U)’s debacle in the Lok Sabha elections.
Kumar said he would review the decisions taken by the Manjhi government.