After dumping ally BJP, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday comfortably won a vote of confidence in his government in the Bihar Assembly amid signals of a new political alignment as Congress backed the motion.
A total of 126 votes, including four of Congress and one of CPI, were cast in favour of the confidence motion while 24, including 22 of Lalu Prasad led RJD, voted against the motion as BJP members staged a walkout before the vote.
Those who voted in favour of the motion included ruling JD(U)'s 117 and four Independents. Besides RJD's 22 MLAs, two Independents also opposed the motion.
Significantly, the Congress support for the government comes two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Kumar as secular and indicated that his party could do business with RJD.
The Central government had already enhanced development assistance to Bihar as a backward state recently, setting off speculation that the two parties could come together in future elections.
In his speech in the Assembly, Kumar said, without taking the name of Narendra Modi, that the main reason for breaking the alliance with BJP was the elevation of the Gujarat Chief Minister in his party.
He said the slogan shouting by BJP MLAs hailing Modi went to buttress JD(U)'s point, an apparent reference to the possibility of BJP making him the Prime Ministerial candidate.
Later, the Chief Minister in a chat with reporters thanked the Congress party for voting in favour of the trust motion. "But if you think that there was some discussion (betweenJD(U) and Congress) about future, there has been no discussion," he said.
Minutes before sailing through a trust vote, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar dedicated a large part of his speech to a stinging attack of Narendra Modi, over whose promotion he ended his alliance with the BJP.
Mr Kumar said that for years, he had made it clear that he would not tolerate any linkage to Mr Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, who he has described as a divisive leader for failing to check the communal riots of 2002 in which hundreds of Muslims were killed in Gujarat. "In 2005, for the state election, did an outsider come here? Was that person allowed here in 2009 for the national election campaign?" he asked.
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