Nitish quits as Bihar CM, doesn't rule out tie-up with BJP
In a surprise move, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar quit on Wednesday claiming he can't work in the "current circumstances" following corruption allegations against Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav but didn't rule out a tie-up with the BJP for running a future government.
"I have been doing my best to provide good governance... But the circumstances have so developed that it was difficult for a person like me to continue to be in power. That is why I met the Governor and gave my resignation," he told reporters outside Raj Bhavan bringing to an end the 20-month-old coalition of the JD-U, RJD and Congress that defeated the BJP in 2015.
Asked whether he would take support of the Bharatiya Janata Party to run the government, the Janata Dal-United leader avoided a direct answer but threw enough hints that this cannot be ruled out.
"What has to happen has happened. What will happen now you keep watching. We will definitely keep Bihar's interest in mind and do what is good for Bihar and its people," he said.
The fact that Nitish Kumar has not recommended the dissolution of the assembly shows he has kept the options open for a possible future tie-up with the BJP, which can provide outside support if not directly participate in the government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quick to welcome the development.
"Many many congratulations to Nitish Kumar for joining the fight against corruption. 125 crore citizens of the country welcome and support this honest move," he tweeted.
"It is the need of the hour to rise above political differences for the bright future of Bihar and unite in the fight against corruption," he added.
Ever since the CBI filed cases of corruption against Tejashwi, his father Lalu Prasad and his sister Misa Yadav, pressure has been mounting on the Chief Minister to sack Tejashwi Yadav.
But any action against the Deputy Chief Minister could have evoked the wrath of the RJD on whose support was vital for the government.
In the 243-member assembly, the RJD has 80 MLAs, the JD-U 71 and Congress 27. The BJP has 53 MLAs and its allies LJP 2, RLSP 2 and HAM 1. There are four independents and four MLAs belong to the CPI-ML.
The JD-U and BJP together make up for 124 seats and with BJP allies the total could go to 129, clearly crossing the half-way mark.
Nitish Kumar had run a coalition government with BJP. But he resigned and severed ties with the party after it announced Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate.
Giving reasons for his decision to quit, Nitish Kumar said that with a slew of corruption charges, he expected Tejashwi Yadav to give an explanation that could have formed the basis for his continuing in office if found justified.
"I waited so that we could have found a way out but nothing of the sort happened. The charges were against a member of the government. I was not in a position tto do anything. There was no basis for the government to function. People everywhere were discussing it.
"In such a situation, it was not possible for the government to function. I heeded to the call of my conscience and decided to resign," he said.
He said he told Lalu Prasad, Congress General Secretary C.P. Joshi, who is in-charge of Bihar, and the JD-U Legislature Party before he met the Governor to resign.
He said he had to face a lot of criticism for his decision to support demonetisation, which had caught the people's imagination, and support Ram Nath Kovind -- "who had done a good job as Governor of Bihar and whose becoming the President was a matter of pride for the state". - IANS