Patna, July 28 (IANS) Two days after dramitcally embracing the BJP, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday had a smooth sail in the confidence vote in the Bihar assembly after he attacked his former ally RJD, saying secularism cannot be used as cover-up for corruption.
After a two-hour discussion on the motion of confidence moved by him, as directed by Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi, the ruling Janata Dal-United-Bharatiya Janata Party combine won the floor test with 131 votes for and 108 against in a house of 243 members.
“Secularism has to do with ideology and it is not a cover-up for corruption. People should not preach secularism to me. I know well what the situation is there in the rival camp,” Nitish Kumar said replying to the debate on the confidence motion in the assembly.
Nitish Kumar took the floor and made a hard-hitting speech after former Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, who now is the new Leader of Opposition, accused him of cheating the people of the state.
The mandate of the 2015 state assembly elections was against the BJP and now Nitish Kumar has chosen to align with that party, Tejashwi Yadav said. Nitish Kumar had spoken of a “Sangh Mukt Bharat” (RSS-free India) and now he has chosen to be the Chief Minister of the “Sangh”, he added.
The JD-U leader said the people of the state had given him a mandate for transparency and development.
“I am secular in my thoughts. I support transparency in politics. If a few people want to use politics to acquire properties, then I won’t support them,” said the Chief Minister, who is also President of Janata Dal-United.
He said his new alliance with the National Democratic Alliance was aimed at Bihar’s development.
“The decision was taken in the state’s interest, for ‘nyay ke saath vikas’ (development in tandem with justice),” Nitish Kumar said.
Nitish Kumar on Wednesday resigned as the Chief Minister, dumping Grand Alliance partners Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress. He again took oath as the Chief Minister with the support of the National Democratic Alliance on Thursday.
“These people have arrogance, and ego… they tried to undermine one party,” he said while referring to several RJD leaders who attacked him in the last 20 months.
The Chief Minister said: “I tried my best. I ran the government for over one-third duration (of the current assembly) by following the coalition ‘dharma’ and tried my best to work for the state. But they kept on speaking.”
The Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation have filed cases against RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his family members for their alleged involvement in large-scale corruption.
“They (RJD leaders) asked me what to do. I clearly told them to give point-by-point rebuttal to the charges. But they didn’t give any answers. Today, they are putting forth the excuse of law,” the Chief Minister said.
He said he was here to serve the state’s people and not one family. “I am here not to serve one family.” He said it had become impossible for him to defend leaders facing corruption charges.
In his speech, Tejashwi Yadav accused Nitish Kumar of using him as a pawn to go over to the BJP.
“You (Nitish Kumar) used me as a pawn to go over to the BJP. You have gone from saying ‘Hey Ram’ (in consternation) when you saw the BJP, to saying ‘Jai Shri Ram’,” Tejashwi Yadav, who was the state’s Deputy Chief Minister till Wednesday evening, said in his over 40-minute speech in the assembly.
Tejashwi Yadav also accused the JJD-U President of “insulting” the mandate of the people time and again. “In 2013, he dumped the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and expelled the BJP ministers from his cabinet, and now again he has repeated it. The JD-U and BJP-led NDA joining hands to form the government is an insult to democracy,” he said.
He said the Grand Alliance of the JD-U, Rashtriya Janata Dal and and the Congress was given the mandate of five years by the people in the 2015 assembly elections, and it was against the BJP.
Tejashwi Yadav said Nitish Kumar had never discussed his resignation with him over corruption charges. “If he had, I would have thought about it. I was taking legal opinion and I told him so. Nitish Kumar is still my uncle, but he betrayed me. If Nitish had asked me to resign, I would have thought about it,” he said.
He alleged that BJP leader Sushil Modi is also facing cases.
“So why did he take oath (as Deputy Chief Minister). Why was the timing of the oath-taking ceremony changed? How did PM Narendra Modi tweet so quickly on Nitish Kumar’s resignation?,” he asked. The RJD has alleged that Nitish Kumar’s quitting the Grand Alliance to join the BJP-led NDA soon after was all “pre-planned”.
He denied his father and RJD chief Lalu Prasad was favouring him in any way, “or else I would have been the Chief Minister”.
“My father was not in ‘Putra moh’, he was in ‘Bhai moh’ (favouring a brother), that’s why he (Nitish Kumar) was elected as the Chief Minister,” Tejashwi Yadav said.
“Everything from the resignation of Nitish Kumar and BJP’s support to him was planned. The way in which he (Nitish Kumar) gave his resignation was saddening,” Tejashwi Yadav said.
Attacking the Bihar Chief Minister further, Tejashwi Yadav said, “Why was he silent during the CBI raids?”
After the new Bihar government won the trust vote in the assembly on Friday, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said the “unnatural Grand Alliance died naturally”, and praised Nitish Kumar for not bowing before RJD chief Lalu Prasad.