Capping a month of internal strife within Bihar’s ruling “grand alliance” following a CBI FIR against RJD leader and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav on corruption charges, Bihar chief minister and JD(U) head Nitish Kumar resigned from his post, saying his position had become “untenable” and that he was listening to the “voice of his conscience”. “When I felt that I cannot work with my principles in this government, I separated myself. I submitted my resignation before the governor. The governor has accepted it and asked me to continue till further arrangements are made,” Kumar told reporters Wednesday, after submitting his resignation to governor Keshari Nath Tripathi. Minutes later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Kumar’s decision with a series of tweets. “Bhrashtachar ke khilaf ladai mein judne ke liye Nitish Kumar ji to bahut bahut badhai. Sava-sau crore nagrik imandari ka swagat aur samarthan kar rahe hain (Many congratulations to Nitish Kumar for joining the fight against corruption. 125 crore citizens have been welcoming and supporting honesty).”
In another tweet, Modi posted: “It is the demand of time and the nation to rise above personal differences and join hands to fight corruption for the bright future of the country and especially Bihar.” Kumar did not throw much light on his next course of action and parried questions on whether he was open to taking support from the BJP to form the next government.
“What will happen in future, when will it happen, how will it happen… leave all that for the future. Keep looking forward to know what will happen. Today, one thing that has to happen has happened. Whatever is in the interest of Bihar will be taken,” he said. The governor has asked Kumar to continue till further arrangements are finalised. Through this month, Kumar’s JD(U) had repeatedly signalled that Tejashwi should quit following the FIR in a case related to the award of hotel tenders by his father and RJD chief Lalu Prasad when he was the Union rail minister in 2006. The FIR stated that Lalu’s family, including Tejashwi, had allegedly received a prime plot of land in Patna in exchange for awarding the tenders to a business group. Kumar said that before driving to the Raj Bhavan, he had conveyed his decision to Lalu Prasad and AICC in-charge for Bihar CP Joshi as well MLAs of his own party. The Congress is the third party in the ruling alliance.
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Kumar also voiced anguish at the “many things that were said about me” after he backed Prime Minister Modi’s decision on demonetisation and the candidature of NDA’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind. Ruling out any communication gap with RJD, Nitish said he had spoken to Lalu and that Tejashwi had also met him. “I never sought the resignation of anybody but wanted those who are facing allegations to explain and counter the perception that was building among people,” he said. “Perhaps there was not much to explain,” he said. Asked whether Tejashwi should have resigned on his own, Kumar said, “Had he done it himself, he would have risen to new heights,” adding, “But then everyone has his own way. I have my own ways.”
Kumar also quoted Mahatma Gandhi to say that the Earth has enough to meet the need of all but not the greed of any, and wondered aloud at the “tendency to acquire so much money”. “The situation has become such that it was difficult to work. I tried as much as was possible,” he said, indicating that he had been finding it difficult to run the government. Last week, Nitish had met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to discuss the political situation in the state. The BJP in Bihar had, meanwhile, threatened to disrupt the assembly’s monsoon session from July 28 if Tejashwi did not resign by then.