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Thursday, March 11, 1999
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Rabri retains ministers

PATNA, March 10 (PTI) — The reinstalled Rabri Devi Government in Bihar today plunged into a crisis with four of the six supporting Independent MLAs withdrawing their backing.

The Rabri Devi Government had claimed support of 150 RJD MLAs, six members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, as many Independents, a nominated member and another JPP MLA for a majority in the 324-member House.

With four of the Independents vowing not to extend support to her government, she could be bailed out only by the Congress, which has agreed to lend an issue-based support to her ministry.

The Independents who have broken ranks are Mr Ramchandra Prasad Singh, Mr Saligram Yadav, Mr Prahlad Yadav and Mr Tarkeswar Singh.

They charged the Rabri Devi Government with taking their support for granted while ignoring the complaint and suggestions made by them.

"We will not tolerate such an autocratic government, which takes others for a ride, for its own vested interests," the Independent MLAs said.

Mr Tarkeswar Singh demanded that the Chief Minister have "a written agreement with them and ensure that the interest of the Dalits and cause of social justice is looked after."

RJD President Laloo Prasad Yadav, however, said, he was unaware of the development regarding the Independents.

The Congress has 29 members in the House.

Earlier, Chief Minister Rabi Devi retained all 78 ministers of her erstwhile Cabinet and said she would induct 15 new faces after securing the vote of confidence in the state assembly.

Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari administered the oath of office and secrecy to 40 Ministers of Cabinet rank and 35 Ministers of State at an impressive function at Raj Bhavan.

Three Ministers of State, Mr Surendra Ram, Mr Jitan Ram Manjhi and Mr Awadhesh Singh, could not take the oath as they were away from the state Capital.

Mrs Rabri Devi later told reporters that she would induct 15 new faces keeping in view "the mounting workload and approaching elections" once she secured the vote of confidence in the 324-member assembly.

The Governor, while inviting Mrs Rabri Devi, to form the new government yesterday after the revocation of President's rule, had asked her to prove her majority in the House within 10 days.

Taking note of the Congress and Left parties' demand for providing full protection to the Dalits and the minorities in Bihar, the Chief Minister said she would appoint senior minister Ramai Ram and another RJD legislator representing the minority community "as second in command with additional responsibilities".

She said the name of the minority representative would be announced within a week.

To a question, she said she would effect a "minor reshuffle" of portfolios of ministers which would be finalised by the evening.

Mrs Rabri Devi, who was sworn in as Chief Minister for the second time yesterday, expressed confidence that she would win the confidence vote with a "thumping margin."

She had yesterday submitted a list to the Governor of 150 RJD MLAs, six MLAs of the Revolutionary Communist Party, as many Independents, one nominated member and another from the Jharkhand People's Party in her support in the House.

The Congress, which has announced issue-based support to the RJD Ministry, has 29 members in the state assembly.

Among prominent ministers of Cabinet rank who took the oath were Mr Jagdanand Singh, Mr Ramai Ram, Mr Mahavir Prasad, Mr Iliyas Hussain, Mr Shanker Prasad Tekriwal, Mr Tulsi Singh, Mr Upendra Prasad Verma, Mr Govardhan Naik, Mr Tulsi Das Mehta, Mr Awadh Bihari Choudhury, Mr Abdul Bari Siddiqui, and Mr Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav.

Others include Mrs Shanti Devi, Mr Sitaram Das, Mr Ramnaresh Prasad Srinarayan Yadav, Mr Munshilal Rai, Mr Ravindra Charan Yadav, Mr Suryadeo Rai, Mr Ramvichar Rai, Mr Ramchandra Purve, Mr Gajendra Prasad Singh, Mr Deonath Prasad, Mr Aklu Ram Mahato, Mr Sitaram Singh, Mr Vijay Krishna, Mr Vaidyanath Pandey and Mr Gulam Sarwar.

The Ministers of State included Mr Mehendra Narayan Yadav, Mr Surendra Prasad Yadav, Mr Sahdeo Prasad Yadav, Mr Harinarayan Singh, Mr Lalbabu Prasad, Mr Ramdas Rai, Mr Shiv Shanker Yadav, Mr Udit Rai, Mr K.B. Prasad, Mrs Abo Devi, Mr Rajendra Rai, Mr Ramashray Sahni, Mr Ramautar Choudhury, Mr Girinath Singh, Mr Vikram Kunwar.

Others included Mr Dilip Kumar Singh, Mr Mahesh Mandal, Mr Arjun Mandal, Mr Indradeo Prasad, Mrs Sita Sinha, Mr Ramlakhan Mahato, Mr Shyam Rajak, Mr Muneshwar Choudhury, Mr Suresh Paswan and Mr Ramprasad Yadav.

State assembly Speaker Deonarayan Yadav, Legislative Council Chairman Jabir Hussain, RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav, besides a host of politicians were present.

The BJP-Samata combine boycotted the ceremony protesting against the return of the "incompetent, ineffective and corrupt" RJD regime following the revocation of President's rule.

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