Patna: Nitish Kumar, who along with RJD chief Lalu Prasad steered the Grand Alliance to a massive victory against BJP-led NDA in Bihar, was on Saturday elected as the leader of the legislature party of the alliance, setting the stage for his third term as chief minister.
64-year-old Kumar's name was proposed by RJD parliamentary board chief Rabri Devi and supported by Congress General Secretary C P Joshi at a joint legislature party meeting of the three parties.
Lalu Prasad, who is barred from fighting elections due to his conviction in a fodder scam case, was present at the meeting marked by bonhomie among MLAs of the three parties who shook hands and hugged each other.
"We have to work hard to realise the faith reposed in us by the voters," Kumar said, a view echoed by Prasad.
Kumar would soon head for Raj Bhawan with senior leaders of constituent parties to formally stake claim to form government before Governor Ram Nath Kovind.
JD(U) spokesman Neeraj Kumar, who was present in the Grand Alliance legislature party meeting, told PTI that all the legislators approved the name of Kumar and clapped at the decision.
RJD President Lalu Prasad, his JD(U) counterpart Sharad Yadav, Joshi and JD(U) General Secretary K C Tyagi were present, he said.
Earlier in the day JD(U) had formally elected Nitish Kumar as its legislature party leader. Neeraj Kumar said Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and Sharad
Yadav made brief speeches at the meeting and reminded the newly elected legislators of the responsibility entrusted with them by the people.
Before the meeting of grand secular alliance at the Legislative Council Annexe, separate meetings of JD(U), RJD and Congress were held.
Congress legislators authorised party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi to name the CLP leader and also to decide whether to be part of the future Nitish Kumar government.
RJD had yesterday itself put its stamp on name of Nitish Kumar as leader of the legislature party of the alliance. Lalu Prasad, who has been entrusted with the responsibility to decide the RJDLP leader, did not come out with any name today.
Also suspense continued on whether one of his two sons would be the deputy chief minister in the coalition government.
Grand Secular Alliance has secured more than two-third majority winning 178 seats in the 243-member Bihar house. RJD got 80 seats, the JD(U) won 71 and the Congress 27.
Bihar can have a maximum of 36 ministers including the chief minister, as the total number of ministers cannot exceed 15 per cent of the total number of members of the house.