Debating India

BIHAR 2005

Nitish Kumar woos Paswan

Sunday 3 April 2005, by BALCHAND*K.

PATNA, APRIL 2. The senior Janata Dal (United) leader, Nitish Kumar, today began a fresh exercise to form a minority government in Bihar. He sought the support of six political parties and 17 independents. This effort comes almost a month after the failed attempts of the Rashtriya Janata Dal to form a government and the imposition of President’s rule in the State.

Mr. Kumar made his plan to form a non-RJD, non-Congress Government public after meeting the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) chief and the Union Steel Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, at the residence of the Bihar chief of the Samajwadi Party, Daddan Pahelwan, here this morning. According to Mr. Kumar, they have decided to hold parleys in Delhi from April 3 to 5 to work out the modalities for a government minus the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mr. Kumar has written to the LJP, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), the Samajwadi Party, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the 17 independents seeking their support for the 16-point common minimum programme that he has outlined on the basis of the salient features contained in the manifestoes of these parties.

He said the BJP had not been sidelined; it had been taken into confidence while drawing up the blueprint to break the deadlock that had stalled the formation of a government. His idea was clear - the BJP would support the new dispensation from outside.Mr. Kumar said he was unwilling to seek the support of the Congress as it had been part of the RJD-led coalition that had been defeated by the people.

However, Mr. Paswan continues to maintain that he is opposed to the formation of any government, which has even the indirect support of the RJD or the BJP. He also insists on having a Muslim as Chief Minister. The BJP vice-president, S.K. Modi, however, is of the view that Mr. Paswan has since softened his stand.

The BSP and the CPI(ML) have made it clear that they would not support any ministry that would have even the outside support of the BJP. The RJD chief and Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad, said the move was a mere "eyewash."

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