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Nitish returns as CM with new deputies

Tarkishore Prasad, Renu Devi are Dy CMs; BJP’s Nand Kishore Yadav picked as Speaker; 14-member Council of Ministers takes oath; BJP bags 7 berths, JD(U) 5, HAM, VIP 1 each

Nitish Kumar was on Monday sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the seventh time in two decades, in the presence of top NDA leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda.

Nitish, who heads the JD(U), was administered the oath of office at Raj Bhavan by Governor Phagu Chauhan, a day after he staked claim for the formation of a new Government in the State, armed with unanimous support of all legislators of the NDA despite his partys plummeted tally.

The 69-year-old, who has had a continuous run since November 2005, except for the period in 2014-15 when Jitan Ram Manjhi kept the chair warm for him, is on course to becoming the longest serving CM of the State, surpassing the record of Shrikrishna Singh who held the top post since before Independence till his death in 1961.

A 14-member Council of Ministers, headed by Nitish, was on Monday sworn in. Those who were administered oath of office included two Deputy Chief Minister designates Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi both from the BJP which bagged a lions share of seven berths.

Since the post of a Deputy CM is not a constitutional one, the two took oath as Ministers and their posts would be notified by the Cabinet in due course. The two sat alongside Kumar on the podium which confirms their elevated position in the Cabinet.

Five Ministers were from the JD(U), while one each was from smaller allies Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP).

JD(U) Ministers included old hands like Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Ashok Choudhary and Vijay Kumar Chaudhary besides new faces Mewa Lal Chaudhary and Sheela Kumari Mandal.

Other than the two Deputy CM designates, those from the BJP included Mangal Pandey, who held the health portfolio in the previous Government  besides Amarendra Pratap Singh, Ramprit Paswan, Jibesh Kumar and Ram Surat Rai.

HAM MLC Santosh Kumar Suman, whose father Jitan Ram Manjhi is a former Chief Minister and the national president of the party, also took oath besides Mukesh Sahni, the founder of VIP who formerly worked as a set designer in the film industry.

A political greenhorn, Sahni could not tame his exuberance and shared a screenshot of the communication he had received from Raj Bhavan on his Twitter handle much before the ceremony, attended among others by Union Home Minister Amit Shab and BJP president JP Nadda, commenced.

Ramprit Paswan, who is the MLA from Rajnagar in Madhubani, and Jibesh Kumar who represents Jale in Darbhanga, took oath in their native Maithili language.

Among the two Deputy CM designates, Prasad is a fourth term MLA who is getting inducted into the council of ministers for the first time.

Renu Devi, who is a former national vice president of the BJP and a four-term MLA from Bettiah, has previously served as a member of the council of ministers headed by Nitish Kumar in 2010.

Senior BJP legislator Nand Kishore Yadav will be the new Speaker of the Bihar Assembly, sources said on Monday. Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, a close aide of the Chief Minister, was the Speaker of the previous Assembly. Chaudhary has taken oath as a minister.

Nand Kishore Yadav, a seven-term MLA from Patna Sahib, has been intimated about it by the party’s leadership, they said.

He has served as a minister in all the previous NDA Governments in Bihar. He was the Minister for the Road Construction Department in the last government. The Speaker’s post will go to the BJP as per the understanding reached within the alliance, the sources said.

The BJP has emerged as the largest party within the ruling coalition with 74 seats, while the JD(U) has a strength of 43.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 | PNS/PTI | Patna

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