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RJD reign ends in Bihar; Nitish likely to be next CM

Our Bureau

Though the Bihar election results have come as a dampener to the ruling United Progressive Alliance at the Centre and a boost to the sagging morale of the main Opposition, the BJP, political observers see no immediate threat to the Manmohan Singh government.


WINNER'S SMILE: The Janata Dal (United) leader, Mr Nitish Kumar, at his residence in New Delhi after the declaration of Bihar Assembly Election results on Tuesday. - R.V. Moorthy

New Delhi , Nov. 22

THE 15-year uninterrupted reign of Mr Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar came to an end today with the Janata Dal (United)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance securing 142 seats in the 243-member State Assembly — a good 20 seats more than the majority figure.

The JD (U) leader, Mr Nitish Kumar, is tipped to take over as the new Chief Minister.

The results of the four-phase elections in Bihar were announced on Tuesday, which saw the once-invincible RJD reduced to 54 seats and its allies, the Congress (I) down to nine and the CPI (M) and the Nationalist Congress Party to one each.

Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, the man who held the key to government formation after the February 2005 elections in the State, could secure only 11 seats for his Lok Janshakti Party.

In the February elections, the JD (U) had bagged 55 seats, the BJP 37, the RJD 75, the LJP 29 and the Congress 10. Despite several attempts, government formation was not possible because Mr Paswan refused to align with either the RJD or the BJP.

The Assembly was kept in suspended animation and dissolved in May.

Though the Bihar election results have come as a dampener to the ruling United Progressive Alliance at the Centre and a boost to the sagging morale of the main Opposition, the BJP, political observers see no immediate threat to the Manmohan Singh government. On the contrary, the domineering role of Mr Lalu Prasad at the Centre might be reduced, giving more elbowroom to the Congress to take a stand on ethical issues such as those of `tainted' ministers.

Mr Nitish Kumar, the 54-year old engineer turned politician, has held the Railways and Food and Agriculture portfolio in the Central Government and enjoys a reputation of being a good administrator.

After winning the elections today, he promised "good governance" in Bihar.

Elections in Bihar in the past have been marked by large-scale violence, but this time the strong stand of the Election Commission saw very little violence during the four phases of polling.

Related Stories:
President's rule in Bihar: Is it really the end of the Lalu chapter?

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