Bihar: Jitan Ram Manjhi sworn in as Pro-Tem Speaker

Credits: Hindustan Times

Bihar government formation took a new turn on Thursday with former CM accepting a position in his former rival Nitish Kumar led government. The alliance equations in Bihar is to watch out for in the next five years

By Siddesh Pradhan, Inputs from ANI

Former Bihar Chief Minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi was sworn in as Pro-Tem speaker of Bihar Assembly by Governor Phagu Chouhan on Thursday for a period of November 23-24, according to a Raj Bhavan communique.

A five-day inaugural session of the newly constituted Bihar Assembly is scheduled to begin on November 23.

Earlier, Manjhi had said that he would not accept any ministerial position in the Nitish Kumar-led government as he himself had been the Chief Minister before. Manjhi and Kumar had a fallout over the CM post in 2015 and Kumar had engineered to oust Manjhi from Janata Dal (JD) United (U) . Manjhi launched his own party HAM in 2015 May, thereafter.

Manjhi’s HAM had played a significant role in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Bihar elections with his five-year old party having a winning strike rate of 53% by  winning four out of seven seats it had fielded.

Nitish Kumar took oath as Bihar Chief Minister for the seventh time on Monday with two Deputy Chief Ministers from the BJP — four-time Katihar MLA Tarkishore Prasad and four-time Bettiah MLA Renu Devi. Former Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi was sidelined by the BJP from Bihar politics by not giving him any post. It is believed that the BJP is not happy with him due his non-charismatic character.

A total of 15 ministers were administered the oath of office by Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan — seven from the BJP, including Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi,  six from the JD(U), including Nitish; and one each from the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and HAM. The lone minister from HAM is Manjhi’s son Santosh Kumar Suman.

Bihar Assembly elections witnessed a neck-to-neck fight between the BJP-JDU-led NDA and the RJD-Congress-led Mahagathbandhan with NDA winning 125 seats and the Mahagathbandhan 110 seats.

On one hand, RJD emerged as the single largest party with 75 seats, the poor performance of the Congress of winning only 19 seats out of the 70 it contested pulled down the Mahagathbandhan to defeat.

On the other hand BJP emerged as the largest party in the NDA alliance by winning 74 seats, while Nitish Kumar-led-JD(U) winning only 43 seats. This has pushed Nitish Kumar on the backfoot and the BJP gaining an extra edge in the bell-weather state of Bihar.

The outcome of the Bihar 2020 elections may change alliance equations in Bihar for years to come.

Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan, who broke with the Bihar NDA before the elections, has opened up a tirade against Nitish Kumar and JD(U). The JD(U) has blamed LJP for fielding candidates against them which JD(U) claimed led to its poor performance. The BJP is trying to play a safe game over here. LJP is an NDA partner in the Centre and the BJP does not wish to estrange Chirag Paswan. Also, it wants to keep the newly formed government in Bihar stable for five years by not upsetting Nitish Kumar. Moreover, the BJP knows that in 2025 Nitish Kumar’s power would have been further diminished and that the BJP would have to forge newer equations then.

With a stronger BJP and a weakened Nitish Kumar, Bihar 2020 elections have turned out to be a major step in BJP’s aim of bagging the CM post in 2025.