Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar wins confidence vote

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today comfortably won a vote of confidence in his government in the Bihar Assembly after breaking away from the BJP, even as signals emerged of a new political alignment with the Congress backing the motion.

Analysts say the Congress support for Nitish Kumar's government is significant as it comes two days after prime minister Manmohan Singh indicated that the Congress could do business with him

A total of 126 votes were cast in favour of the motion, including four of Congress and one of CPI, while 24, including 22 of Lalu Prasad led RJD, voted against the motion. Members of the  BJP staged a walkout ahead of the vote.

The motion was supported by 117 MLAs of the ruling JD (U) and four Independents, while two independents also opposed the motion.

In what political observes see as significant, the Congress support for Nitish Kumar's government comes two days after prime minister Manmohan Singh described Kumar as secular and indicated that the Congress could do business with him.

In a recent development, the central government had increased development assistance to Bihar as a backward state triggering speculation of the two parties could come together in future elections.

Kumar said, without naming Narendra Modi, that the main reason for breaking the alliance with BJP was the elevation of the Gujarat chief minister by his party.

He added, the slogan shouting by BJP MLAs hailing Modi buttressed the JD(U)'s point, in an apparent reference to the possibility of the BJP making him the prime ministerial candidate.

In a chat with reporters, Nitish thanked the Congress party for voting in favour of the trust motion.

"If you think that there was some discussion (between JD(U) and Congress) about future, there has been no discussion," he said.

"If some workers of a party get excited that there is a wave in their favour, it is daydreaming which will evaporate definitely," Kumar said.

He added, that the JD (U) had to break the alliance in the interest of secularism and democracy and to take the nation on the right path. Kumar said he was not bothered about losing the chair and also thanked CPI for supporting him.

BJP's 91 MLAs and lone LJP MLA walked out of the assembly and abstained from voting on which a division was insisted upon by members of JD(U) and RJD).

Out of the 6 independent MLAs, two - Dilip Verma and Jyoti Rashmi voted against the trust motion, while Zakir Hussain Khan of Ramvilas Paswan's LJP abstained from voting in the name of secularism.

Before trooping out of the House, BJP MLAs shouted slogans against Kumar in favour of Modi, saying the "confidence vote sought by the CM has no meaning."

The atmosphere was surcharged in the House from the beginning with BJP and JD(U) trading charges of betrayal in view of the overwhelming mandate the people of the state had given to the NDA in the 2010 Assembly elections.

BJP legislative party leader Nandkishore Yadav rejecting Nitish Kumar's argument that the BJP created a situation in which the JD(U) was left with no option but to sever the ties said, the truth was that since the 2009 Parliamentary elections (in which NDA bagged 32 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats) and 2010 Bihar Assembly elections (in which JD(U) and BJP together got 206 seats in 243-member Assembly), Nitish had become ambitious and thought of repeating Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik's dumping of BJP.

He added he (Nitish) was working on the plot and waiting for an opportune moment to part company with the BJP and go alone, as he pointed an accusing finger at the CM who was looking at him.