Patna: Nitish Kumar Sunday returned as Bihar chief minister, nine months after he resigned following his party JD-U's massive defeat in the 2014 general elections.
Party leaders said he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek more funds to speed up development work in the state. The 66-year-old Janata Dal-United leader was administered the oath of office as the 24th chief minister of Bihar by Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi.
Along with Nitish Kumar, 22 ministers also took oath at a simple ceremony at Raj Bhavan here. Most of the ministers were in his earlier cabinet and are considered loyal and trusted. This will be Nitish Kumar's fourth time as chief minister.
Nitish Kumar had resigned as chief minister last year after the JD-U's rout in the Lok Sabha polls. Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was made chief minister in May 2014, resigned Feb 20 after a political row in the state. JD-U leaders said Nitish Kumar will seek a meeting with Modi in the first week of March to request more funds for the state's economic development.
"Governor K.N. Tripathi, who administered oath to Nitish Kumar and his ministers, directed the new government to seek a confidence vote in the assembly in March," officials said. The party's national general secretary K.C. Tyagi said Nitish Kumar will meet Modi for the sake of Bihar's development.
"Nitish Kumar will certainly meet Modi soon," Tyagi told media persons ahead of the oath-taking ceremony. JD-U state president Vashisht Narain Singh told IANS: "There is a need for more cooperation from the central government for the state's development. Nitish Kumar will meet Modi soon."
Those who were inducted into his cabinet were Vijay Kumar Choudhary, Bijendra Yadav, Ramai Ram, Ramlashan Ram Raman, Damodar Rawat, P.K. Shahi, Shyam Razak, Lesi Singh, Dular Chandra Goswami, Awadesh Narain Kushwaha, Lalan Singh, Sharvan Kumar, Ramdhani Singh, Jai Kumar Singh, Baidnath Shahni, Bima Bharti, Ranju Gita, Narendra Narain Yadav, Naushad Alam, Ninod Yadav, Manoj Singh Kushwaha, and Jawed Iqbal Ansari. Several of the new ministers touched Nitish Kumar's feet after they took oath.
Former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, JD-U president Sharad Yadav, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, former Bihar chief minister Manjhi and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi attended the swearing-in function.
Nitish Kumar had last year snapped ties with long-time ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after Narendra Modi was named the party's prime ministerial candidate. This proved counter-productive and resulted in the JD-U's rout in the Lok Sabha polls.
Born in 1951, Nitish Kumar was elected to the Bihar assembly for the first time in 1985. He became president of the Yuva Lok Dal in 1987 and secretary general of the then undivided Janata Dal two years later. He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1989 and went on to win five parliamentary elections from Bihar.
A minister of state in the V.P. Singh government, he became railway minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government but resigned when a train disaster claimed the lives of about 250 people. He returned to the cabinet as minister for surface transport and agriculture.
Nitish Kumar Feb 20 publicly apologised to the people of Bihar for his "mistake" for having resigned as chief minister last year. "I admit that I made a mistake by resigning as chief minister. I publicly apologise for it to the people of Bihar. Please forgive me, as I will not repeat my mistake," he said at a press conference.
In the 243-member assembly, the JD-U has 115 legislators. The party has the support of 24 Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) legislators, five Congress legislators, two independents and a Communist Party of India legislator. The BJP has 88 legislators and is supported by three Independents.