Nitish set to take oath, thousands pour in

Friday, November 26, 2010

PATNA - The stage was set and thousands of people Friday started gathering at the sprawling Gandhi Maidan here to witness Nitish Kumar take oath as Bihar’s chief minister for a second consecutive term after a historic win in assembly polls.

Nitish Kumar did not want to be sworn in at Raj Bhavan - the traditional venue for such ceremonies - because he wanted tens of thousands to attend the event, said sources in his Janata Dal-United (JD-U).

Watching Nitish Kumar being sworn in Friday afternoon would be the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) top leadership, including ally Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari, senior leaders L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley as well as JD-U president Sharad Yadav.

Thousands of people from different parts of the state have already arrived here and more are likely to reach before Nitish Kumar formally takes oath at 2.30 p.m.

“We have made elaborate arrangements for the function and deployed over 4,000 security personnel in and around Gandhi Maidan,” Patna district magistrate Jitendra Kumar Sinha said.

In 2005 too, Nitish Kumar had taken oath at the same venue. He had been chief minister for just seven days in 2000.

Lalu Prasad had been sworn in at Gandhi Maidan March 10, 1990, and some say at that time too it had been the idea of Nitish Kumar, who was then very close to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader.

For the NDA, the day is particularly significant as it has returned to power for a second term by sweeping the polls. The NDA combine swept the Bihar assembly polls - held from Oct 21-Nov 20 - with the JD-U winning 115 seats and the BJP 91 seats in the 243-member house.

Nitish Kumar was Thursday formally invited to form the government again. Earlier, Nitish Kumar was unanimously elected leader of the NDA legislature party - comprising legislators of his JD-U and BJP.

He along with other NDA leaders met Governor Debananda Konwar and handed over letters of support from the newly-elected legislators of the twin-party alliance.

According to sources close to Nitish Kumar, a 35-member council of ministers with 20 from the JD-U and 15 from the BJP would also be sworn in Friday.

Earlier, Nitish Kumar was elected leader of the JD-U legislature party and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi was elected leader of the BJP legislature party.

“Nitish Kumar was elected at a meeting of the newly elected party legislators of the JD-U and BJP in the presence of Sharad Yadav and Arun Jaitley,” a JD-U leader said.

Filed under: Politics

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