Nitish Kumar resigns as Bihar CM, new leader likely today

Written by PTI | Patna | Updated: May 18 2014, 05:28am hrs
Nitish kumarNitish Kumar-led JD(U), which had bagged 20 seats in 2009, could only secure two in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Drubbed in the Lok Sabha elections and facing dissidence, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigned, but did not seek dissolution of the Assembly, injecting a dramatic turn in state politics.

Bihar Governor D Y Patil has accepted the resignation of the Chief Minister and his cabinet, according to a Raj Bhavan communique.

"The Lok Sabha election results have not been good for JD(U). The people's mandate has to be respected. So, I have tendered the resignation of my council of ministers. I had led the campaign. So, it is my duty to take moral responsibility and I must take," he told reporters after resigning.

Stating that though there was no danger to his government, Kumar said, "In view of the prevailing situation in the state Assembly ... I thought I should take moral responsibility for this political defeat and quit."

The Governor urged Kumar to continue along with his ministerial council till the next ministry was constituted, a statement from Raj Bhavan said.

The tenure of the present government was till November 2015.

On why he did not seek dissolution of the Assembly, Kumar said he had played a leading role in the constitution of the Assembly in 2010. The Assembly has a tenure of five years and he did not want it to be "disturbed".

Apparently taking a high moral ground, Kumar said he has called a meeting of the JD(U) legislature party tomorrow to elect a new leader and maintained that there was no threat to the government which enjoyed a majority.

Asked what would be his stand if the legislature party wanted him to again lead the state, he said, "I know only one thing that I have tendered the resignation of myself and my Cabinet and rest of the things the party will decide."

Observers believe that JD(U) might stake claim to continue in power under a new leader to be elected tomorrow.

At a press conference in Delhi, JD(U) President Sharad Yadav maintained a new government will be formed in Bihar and it will be of JD(U).

He said the new Chief Minister candidate will be decided tomorrow.

Differences with RJD leader Lalu Prasad will be resolved for a secular alliance, he said, adding all secular forces will be united.

In the 243-member Bihar Assembly, JD(U) has 115 members, BJP 89 and RJD 21. JD(U) has the support of four members of Congress, one of CPI and two Independents. There are six vacancies.

Apart from the mauling in the Lok Sabha elections in which JD(U) bagged only two of the 40 seats in the state, the chief minister was also said to be facing severe dissidence within the party over parting ways with BJP last year after Narendra Modi was projected as its prime ministerial candidate.

When told that former deputy chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi had claimed that 50 JD(U) MLAs dissatisfied with him were on the verge of defecting to BJP and had even helped the saffron party in the Lok Sabha polls, he said, "Now he has a golden opportunity to form his own government as I have not recommended dissolution of the House."

"I have said they have the opportunity... they are free to do whatever they want," he said.

Questioned about his future role, he said he would continue to work as a party leader as he did earlier.

Taking a dig at Narenda Modi over his "good days here again," Kumar said this must be experienced by all.

"Whatever election results have come, we will do a detailed review within the party. But the trends witnessed in Bihar points to communal polarisation," he said, adding the campaign mounted by Modi was devoid of ideology and was full of charges and counter charges and personal attacks.

At his press conference in Delhi, the JD(U) chief said a new government would be formed in Bihar and it would be of JD(U).

He said differences with RJD leader Lalu Prasad would be resolved for a secular alliance.

To a question, he shot back, "We have made sacrifices. No one can raise an accusing finger at us on the issue of standing up for principles. We had even quit the Centre on the issue of Mandal Commission recommendations".