PATNA: Nitish resigned as the Chief Minister of Bihar on Wednesday, and is set to take oath for the same post on Thursday. In-between, friends became foes, rivals the new allies and the mahagathbandhan, or great Opposition unity, got shred to tatters.
The Chief Minister and chief of the JD(U) put an end to his 23-month-long ‘uneasy’ partnership with Lalu Prasad Yadav on Wednesday with his resignation. Nitish’s bonhomie with Lalu soured after the latter’s son and deputy Chief Minister refused to quit over allegations of corruption, kept alive in the State by the BJP. Nitish is set to form a new government on Thursday supported by the saffron party.
Wednesday’s drama began with a statement by Lalu suggesting Nitish could step down “if he felt burdened by his alliance with the RJD.” Three hours later, the Chief Minister decided to take Lalu’s advice, in an attempt to demonstrate his ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption. “I tried my best to run the alliance and government, but matters that came up made it impossible for me to continue,” Nitish said outside Governor’s residence after submitting his papers.
Swinging swiftly into action, BJP offered unconditional support. “Legislators of BJP and JD(U) met at Nitish’s residence to elect him our leader,” said senior BJP’s leader Sushil Kumar Modi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his wishes. “Many congratulations to Nitish Kumarji for joining the fight against corruption.” Nitish promptly thanked Modi for support.
Nitish, according to sources, readily agreed to head the new government. “I will consider anything that is in the interests of Bihar,” he said, indicating his willingness to forge an alliance with the saffron party. Sushil Kumar Modi of BJP is expected to be the new deputy Chief Minister.
“Nitish Kumar may be sworn in on Thursday as the Chief Minister, heading the JD(U)-BJP government,” said a JD(U) leader close to Nitish. The swift move was apparently prompted by Lalu’s announcement that RJD would stake claim to form a government in a day or two as it is the largest party in the Assembly.
Speaking immediately after Kumar’s resignation, Lalu had said the grand alliance of RJD, JD(U) and Congress was still intact and that only Nitish had resigned. Lalu even claimed that the parties would meet in a day or two and choose a new leader to be the Chief Minister, while he also attacked Nitish, saying he has a “murder taint” on him.
Later in the night, Tejashwi Yadav tweeted that RJD, being the largest party in the House, would stake claim to form the government. Reports claimed he has sought time to meet the Governor at 11 am on Thursday.