The BJP and JD-U will form the new government after the latter party’s chief resigned saying in the circumstances it became difficult to run the grand alliance government.
On a day of dramatic developments, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigned today, dumping Rashtriya Janata Dal over corruption charges against his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, and joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party to form a new government.
Citing irreconcilable differences with the senior ally over corruption charges against Tejashwi, son of Lalu Prasad, Kumar announced his resignation after meeting Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, hours after the RJD supremo rejected outright the demand for his son’s ouster.
Kumar’s resignation capped days of stand-off between his party the Janata Dal-United and the RJD with the former insisting that Tejashwi defend himself against the allegations.
"In the circumstances that prevail in Bihar, it became difficult to run the grand alliance government,” Kumar told reporters outside Raj Bhavan after submitting his resignation to Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi.
BJP quickly seized upon the opportunity to reunite with its old ally, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi praising Kumar for “joining the fight against corruption”, saying the entire nation supports his honesty.
Senior state BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who was Kumar’s deputy when the two parties ran a coalition government, said his party has decided to back the JD-U leader in forming the next government and will be a part of it.
Legislators of NDA constituents and JD-U met to elect Nitish as their leader and it was decided that Nitish would take the oath of office on Thursday at 5 pm.
In the 243-member Bihar assembly, JD-U has 71 MLAs and the BJP 53.
The two parties together have 124 MLAs, marginally ahead of the half-way mark.
Besides, they have the support of NDA allies LJP (2) and RLSP (2).
Earlier, Kumar, when asked about the chances of his forming a government with BJP’s support, said, “Whatever will be in the interest of Bihar will be done. Wait for the future to unfold. Whatever had to happen has happened. Now see what happens next.” Kumar said his resignation was accepted by the governor who asked him to continue as CM till an alternative arrangement has been made.
“I tried to work it out.... I did not ask for anybody’s resignation... I just asked Tejashwi to explain the charges of corruption,” he said.
Lalu hits back at Nitish
After the CM made the announcement, Lalu broached the idea of forming an alternative government without Kumar or Tejashwi heading it. He said since the people’s mandate to the grand alliance was for a five-year term, it should be respected.
Tensions simmered between the two alliance partners ever since the Central Bureau of Investigation registered a case against Lalu Prasad, his wife and former chief minister Rabri devi and son Tejashwi in a land-for-hotels case.
The Congress expressed disappointment over the resignation of Nitish Kumar as Bihar chief minister and said it will continue to strive to resolve the differences in the ‘grand alliance’.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the ‘grand alliance’ was given a mandate for five years and the Congress will strive to respect that. “We are deeply disappointed by the news of resignation of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. We, in the Congress party, particularly Congress president and party vice president have great respect and affection for Nitish Kumar,” he said.
The Congress leader said the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ was given a five-year mandate by people of Bihar based on the policies, principles and cumulative leadership that was presented. It was also a mandate against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who challenged the honour of Bihar, he said.
“Responsibility lies on each one of us to respect this mandate. The Congress party will do everything within its means (to see to it) that this mandate is honoured,” he said.
“Any differences of opinion that may have cropped up we will try and sort them out by speaking to each other in an amicable and cordial fashion,” he said.
The offence was allegedly committed when Lalu was the railway minister in the United Progressive Alliance government. He was allegedly instrumental in handing over the maintenance of two hotels of Indian Railways-owned PSU ICRTC to two Patna businessmen in return for a prime plot of land in the Bihar capital where his family is now constructing a shopping mall.
Lalu gave a new twist to Kumar’s resignation, saying a pending case against him and not the differences over corruption charges against Tejashwi was at the root the the JD-U leader’s “resignation drama”.
In the 1991 Lok Sabha polls, a man named Sitaram Singh was killed at a polling station in Pandarak and Nitish Kumar is among the accused. He had made a mention of the case in the affidavit he filed while contesting the Legislative Council election, Lalu told a press conference.
He claimed a court in Barh had taken cognisance of the charges against Kumar in 2009 and that the case was still alive in the Patna high court.
“Nitish knew that he was soon going to be hauled up by the court and will have to quit in any case. He made the Tejashwi issue a ruse to exit before that happens,” the RJD boss claimed.
He slammed Kumar for seeking explanation from Tejashwi over graft charges against him, saying “We will give the documents to CBI. Who are they to ask for it? Has Tejashwi engaged in any act of corruption as a minister in Bihar?”
“There is the involvement of Narendra Modi in all this. Nitish has slapped the people of Bihar and now people like Sushil Modi (a top state BJP leader and former deputy chief minister) are eager to form government with JD-U,” he said.
Replying to a question, Lalu said he had not sacrificed the grand alliance government for “love of his son”.
“We were the largest party in the grand alliance. Tejashwi got the post of the deputy chief minister. We had the mandate of the people,” he said.