Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was sworn in as the chief minister of Bihar three days ago, today won the trust vote in the state assembly after displaying some rare aggression in his reply to the debate on the vote of confidence motion. “I am not a wax statue,” he said in response to persistent opposition barbs that he would be remote-controlled by his predecessor, Nitish Kumar.
In an assembly with an effective strength of 237, the Manjhi government managed to secure the backing of 145 MLAs. Besides 117 lawmakers belonging to his party, the Janata Dal (United), 21 MLAs from Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, or RJD, four of the Congress, one of the CPI and two Independents voted in favour of the trust motion. The BJP’s 88 legislators staged a walkout from the House before the motion was put to vote.
After the RJD extended its backing to the new JD(U) government, the fate of the trial of strength was never in doubt. Nitish and Lalu, who were together in the Janata Dal, parted ways in 1994. With Narendra Modi’s BJP walking away with 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats with the help of its allies in Bihar, the two Bihar satraps have now been forced to mend fences.
Mr Manjhi’s reply to the debate on the confidence motion seemed was more like a report-card card of Nitish’s nine-year-stint as the chief minister, as he reeled off figures and statistics on Bihar’s growth story.
The day started off with an aggressive speech by leader of the opposition Nand Kishore Yadav, who took on both Nitish and Lalu, arguing that the two leaders had come together only to stave off the threat from Mr Modi and his party. “We always knew that the RJD and the JD (U) are together. The Samata party was formed to oppose Lalu. Your slogans were that you wanted to root out the RJD rule from Bihar. Now you have gone ahead and made friends with the same people who plunged Bihar into darkness,” he said.