PATNA: Minutes after handing in his resignation to the governor on Wednesday, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar sought to take the moral high ground and indicated that he is open to taking the support of the BJP.
“In the past 20 months of the Mahagathbandhan government, a strong foundation for social reform was built in Bihar through prohibition and the state’s infrastructure needs are being addressed. I tried my best to run the alliance and the government, but the matters that came up made it impossible for me to continue,” Nitish Kumar told journalists outside the governor’s house.
He said he had, before submitting his resignation, communicated his decision over the phone to Lalu Prasad and
C P Joshi, the Congress general secretary in charge of Bihar. Stating that he had not asked for Tejashwi Yadav’s resignation but only a public clarification on the charges against him, Nitish Kumar said he was hurt by the RJD’s refusal to comply. “I listened to the voice of my conscience and took this decision in the interest of Bihar. I had told the RJD of my views, and they had to act. This crisis was deliberately produced (by the RJD),” he said.
Recalling his support for demonetisation, Nitish Kumar said he had called for raids on benami properties and asked: “Now how can I go back on my principles?” In an obvious attack on the RJD chief’s family for amassing prime land worth hundreds of crores of rupees, Nitish Kumar quoted Mahatma Gandhi: “I always say people’s needs can be fulfilled, but not their greed. What will one do with so much property? Coffins do not have pockets.”
Later in the day, reacting to Nitish Kumar’s move to resign and later align with the BJP, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav asked his aides and strategists to get MLAs of RJD, JD(U) and Congress together for a meeting on Friday.
However, the BJP, keen to foil Lalu’s plans to cling to power, opened a channel with Nitish Kumar and got his consent for fast-paced arrangements to put in place a JD(U)-BJP government, said sources.
While attacking Nitish for snapping ties with RJD and Congress, Lalu said Kumar’s claims of zero-tolerance to corruption was a farce and that his decision to resign was prompted by the knowledge that he might be convicted in a “murder case of 1991”.
“Nitish Kumar is an accused in a case of Section 302,” said Lalu. “The courts have taken cognisance of the murder of Sitaram Singh, a voter and a citizen, in Pandarak in November 1991. Nitish Kumar may be sentenced to life term. He resigned because of this case,” said Lalu.
Earlier in the day, Lalu made a pointed remark hinting at Nitish Kumar’s dependence on him and the RJD, saying "Why would I destabilise him? I made him Chief Minister."
Tejashwi earlier in the day accused the RSS and BJP of trying to drive a wedge in the Bihar Grand Alliance. He said: “I was never asked to resign. It’s RSS-BJP which wants to break the grand alliance, people can see through their conspiracy." He said this was all part of Amit Shah's plan to have BJP rule all the states in India, and that said Sushil Kumar Modi was not even a Bihari; he "is an outsider who does not care about Bihar's development or its people."
The people of Bihar had in a strong statement in the 2015 Assembly poll defeated the BJP just a year after it came to power in the Centre. But now the party that won only 53 of 243 seats in the BJP Assembly seems set to play a deciding role in the government of Bihar.
(With Inputs from IANS)