Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar on Tuesday resigned as Bihar Chief Minister. Kumar handed over the resignation to Governor Phagu Chauhan.
The move came after a meeting of the JD(U) at the official residence of Nitish Kumar in Patna. In the JD(U) meeting which was held on Tuesday, all MLAs and MPs of the party supported Nitish Kumar's decision and said that they were with him. They also asserted that they will continue to support Kumar in his decision.
After his resignation, Nitish Kumar reached former Chief Minister Rabri Devi's house to confabulate with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Addressing the reporters, Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha said they extend unconditional support to Nitish Kumar and Mahagathbandhan.
"Let us forget what happened in 2017 and begin a new chapter," Nitish Kumar told Tejashwi Yadav, claimed ANI sources as saying.
Earlier in the day, there were speculations about ending the party's alliance with the BJP and it will embrace the support from the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan to continue in office. This is the second time has split from his ally BJP in eight years.
With this, the NDA alliance has broken in Bihar. The NDA alliance was formed with JD(U), BJP, Vikassheel Insaan Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM).
Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal said, "We fought the 2020 polls together under NDA, the mandate was for JD-U and BJP, we won more seats despite that, Nitish Kumar was made the CM. Whatever happened today is a betrayal of Bihar's people and the BJP."
Senior RJD leader Upendra Kushwaha in a tweet congratulated Kumar for leading a "new coalition in new form," implicitly acknowledging the split and embracing the RJD-led `Mahagathbandhan' (Grand Alliance) to continue in office.
This development comes after the Chief Minister chaired a meeting of JD(U) legislators and MPs at his residence in Patna following the resignation of party leader RCP Singh on Saturday.
Nitish took the decision to quit the NDA after taking opinions from the party MPs and MLAs during the meeting.
In the meeting, Nitish accused BJP of trying to engineer a split in the party with the help of former union minister RCP Singh. He said that earlier too, BJP had damaged the prospects of the party in the last Bihar assembly election by asking LJP leader Chirag Paswan to field his party candidates against JD (U)’s.
Before participating in the meeting, JD (U) MP Kaushalendra said that BJP was trying to lure JD (U) leaders by offering them hefty money.
The relationship between BJP and JD (U) was never cordial since the formation of new NDA government in November, 2020. But it soured further when BJP started trying to assert its position by playing its Hindutva agenda.
Meanwhile, Congress and Left party leaders and MLAs also converged at the residence of Rabri Devi in Patna for a meeting convened by the opposition RJD.
The BJP too held a meeting of its top leaders at Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishor Prasad's residence in Patna on Tuesday. The BJP sources said they will wait till Nitish Kumar makes the first move.
Leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav is likely to visit the CM's residence to hand over the letter of support at any time.
Rumours of a growing rift between the BJP-JD(U) i.e., the NDA alliance in Bihar intensified after Kumar skipped a key meeting of the NITI Aayog, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday and JD(U) leader RCP Singh tendered his resignation from the party.
Singh, once considered a close aide of Nitish Kumar had announced his exit from the party after being served a notice seeking an explanation on allegations of corruption.
The RJD-led Opposition in the state has meanwhile said that it will welcome any re-alignment in Bihar's ruling coalition without the BJP.
The RJD had emerged as the single-largest party in the 2020 Assembly elections in which the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 125 seats - BJP won 74, the JD(U) bagged 43, the Vikassheel Insaan Party got 4 and Hindustan Awaam Party (Secular) bagged 4 seats.
Earlier, Nitish had dumped NDA in 2013 over the projection of Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Later, he formed a government with the Grand Alliance in 2015 but quit it in 2017.
The RJD has 79 MLAs in the assembly, which has an effective strength of 242. It is the single largest party and disqualification of its MLAs will reduce its ability to steer a political upheaval.
Nitish Kumar's JD(U) has 44 legislators, and enjoys the support of one Independent MLA Sumit Singh, who is also a minister and four members of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha.
Amid Bihar upheaval, Speaker tests positive for Covid but recovers in a day
Interestingly, a day after he tested positive for COVID-19, Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha on Tuesday said his test reports have come out negative, amid a brewing political storm in the state, where he will play a key role in determining the legitimacy of any new formulation.
Sinha, a BJP MLA, ebulliently announced on Twitter that his test reports on Monday were negative.
A day earlier, he had tested positive.
(With inputs from agencies)