Patna, November 15
Countdown for the formation of a new government began here on Sunday with a meeting of the NDA under way at the official residence of Nitish Kumar, who is set to return as Chief Minister for the fourth consecutive term.
A meeting of the BJP legislature party, which was to precede the one where all constituents of the coalition will declare Kumar as their leader, was deferred as it was to begin at 10 am in presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who has been sent as an observer.
However, Singh arrived at the airport nearly two hours behind schedule and legislators waiting at the Birchand Patel Marg state headquarters were sounded off that they should rush to 1, Anney Marg, the CMs official residence where leaders of the JD(U) headed by Kumar, Jitan Ram Manjhis HAM and Mukesh Sahnis Vikassheel Insaan Party were also present.
Other senior leaders like former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the states in charge for the recent assembly polls, and Bhupendra Yadav, national general secretary in charge for Bihar, also reached the CMs residence.
Before start of the NDA meeting, kumar was elected leader of the JD(U) legislative party by his party legislators.
All is well. Singh may come to the state headquarters later in the day. Because of paucity of time this change in schedule may have been effected”, BJP leader and former minister Prem Kumar told reporters.
Kumar, who had a couple of days ago said that given his experience he would be glad to serve as the Deputy CM if given a chance, replied with a laugh when asked about the same.
“I have not been staking any claim. We are all committed to Prime Minister Narendra Modis dream of Atmanirbhar Bihar.
The NDA leaders will amicably resolve who should be the leader and the deputy leader”, he said.
There are strong indications that Sushil Kumar Modi, who has been the Deputy CM since 2005 and is known to share an excellent rapport with Kumar, may be retained.
Sushil Modi accompanied Rajnath Singh from the state guest house to the chief minister’s residence giving credence to the speculations in this regard.
Nonetheless, there had been speculations that a Dalit might be considered for the post in order to expand the support base of the BJP, which has returned with the largest tally in the NDA in the recently held assembly elections.
One of the names doing the rounds is Kameshwar Choupal, a Dalit MLC whose claim to fame is for having laid the foundation stone for the temple at Ayodhya in the 1990s. PTI