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Balancing BJP: CM's first act

A day after sweeping Bihar off its feet, the would-be 32nd chief minister, Nitish Kumar, staked his claim to form the next government on Thursday.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2010 01:40 IST
Ashok Mishra

A day after sweeping Bihar off its feet, the would-be 32nd chief minister, Nitish Kumar, staked his claim to form the next government on Thursday.

Kumar will take oath on Friday at the historic Gandhi Maidan here, the same venue where he started his journey as Bihar chief minister on November 24, 2005.

After getting unanimously elected as leader of the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar for the second term, Kumar drove straight to Governor Devanand Konwar’s house.

NDA sources said Kumar would be sworn-in with Sushil Kumar Modi as his deputy and a few other ministers. Modi was earlier unanimously elected as leader of the BJP legislature party at the party headquarters.

But the NDA's landslide victory has brought new problems for Kumar. CP Thakur, BJP state president, said his party had asked for 15 seats in the council of ministers against 13 last time, as it has posted a 36-seat increase in its tally compared to JD-U's 27-seat growth.

In the previous government, Kumar had 23 ministers from the JD-U and 13 from the BJP.

But Kumar does not have the freedom to bring in as many ministers as he wants as the Constitution limits the number of ministers at 36 in the 243-member assembly.

A JD-U leader said on condition of anonymity: "It would be difficult for Kumar to meet the aspirations of the 206 NDA legislators and over 60 MLCs."

If the JD-U accedes to BJP's demand, it would have to remain content with only 21 members in the council of ministers. Insiders, however, said the two partners could agree on a 22-14 formula.

Earlier, BJP leader Arun Jaitley proposed Kumar's name as the leader of the legislature party at the meeting attended by JD-U president Sharad Yadav and senior BJP leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shahnawaz Hussain, and Dharmendra Pradhan.