Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday came down heavily on the opposition RJD, blaming it for his exit from the grand alliance involving the Congress in the state, and charged it with using power for amassing wealth.
Replying to a discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the governor's address, Kumar said his remaining in the 'mahagathbandhan' comprising his JD(U), the RJD and the Congress would have put him in an "embarrassing position" in the event of conviction of Lalu Prasad in fodder scam cases.
"We had formed the grand alliance for seva (service), not for mewa (wealth). I am accused of betraying the mandate. Was the mandate given for grabbing land through benami transactions?" he said during his more than an hour-long speech.
His speech was interrupted by RJD MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav, during the first 45 minutes, after which opposition MLAs, barring one RJD member, walked out of the House.
Kumar has been repeatedly attacked by opposition parties for quitting the grand alliance in July 2017, and rejoining the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
"Good governance, marked by development and justice, has been my motto since 2005. I did not compromise on the ideals even during the 20 months (when the grand alliance was in power)," Kumar said.
"I had tried hard to persuade them to change their thinking and behaviour, but they refused. I asked them to explain, but even then they declined. Was it me who owed an explanation?" Kumar said referring to the RJD's refusal to heed his suggestion that Tejashwi Yadav, then the deputy chief minister, offer a public explanation after his name cropped up in corruption cases.
"Now, the judgment has come in the 21-year-old case (of the fodder scam). Had I been in the mahagathbandhan, I would have been expected to speak on the development as a coalition partner, may be even pay visits in the jail," he said in an obvious reference to Lalu Prasad.
The chief minister also said that his government has given the highest priority to the law-and-order situation.
Expressing dismay over the death of nine children in a road accident involving a BJP worker in Muzaffarpur last week, Kumar said prohibition had led to a decline in accidents.
The government was working on developing infrastructure, modifying laws and increasing awareness to further reduce such mishaps.
Kumar also accused the RJD of supporting prohibition while they were sharing power and "backtracking now".
The chief minister said many crimes resulted from land disputes. His government was, therefore, updating land records with the help of aerial surveys and re-mapping of revenue villages.
He highlighted efforts to publicise Bihar's heritage through modern museums of international standards and decried the "cynical ridicule" of such endeavours.
He also spoke of the public grievance redressal system and measures taken to ensure that officials were made accountable to the people.
Kumar's reply to the motion was approved by a voice vote.
After staging the walkout, Yadav told reporters that his party was dissatisfied over a lack of response from Kumar to the demand for adequate action in the Rs 880 crore Srijan scam.
"Names of persons had been pointed out in whose accounts the money which had been withdrawn had gone. Since they had links with Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, he should have been asked to make a clarification," he said.
"In fact, the chief minister should have given a clarification about his name having figured in a murder case" and about tainted ministers from the state in his own ministry and at the Centre.
As regards to the NDA's contention that no proof had been furnished by the RJD in these matters, he said no evidence had yet been cited against him and other leaders in his party either and yet investigating agencies were taking action against them.
It is because of lack of proof that they had not yet been chargesheeted, Yadav added.
The RJD, he said, was dissatisfied with the manner in which prohibition was being implemented and action being taken only against the poor, not against senior civil or police officials for violating the prohibition law.
"The NDA is in power in the country. Let it implement prohibition across the country, we will support it," he said.
RJD MLA Maheshwar Yadav was conspicuous by his presence inside the House even after the walkout by the other MLAs of the party.
Party leader and MLA Shakti Singh Yadav said action will be taken for this act of indiscipline.