Patna, July 26: In a most dramatic turn of events Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tendered his resignation ending the unholy homey-moon with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar on Wednesday thus frustrating all hopes of the RJD to steer clear of the corruption charges staring at the Lalu Yadav family.
Surprising many Chief Minister Nitish Kumar put in his papers to Governor Kesri Nath Tripthi who, while accepting the resignation, asked him to continue as caretaker Chief Minister till any alternative arrangement is made.
The decision to quit the post was taken by the Chief Minister at a meeting of the JDU MLAs on Wednesday evening. All the minsters belonging to JDU have also tendered their resignations along with the Chief Minister throwing the state in a political turmoil.
Nitish Kumar’s resignation besides driving a wedge into the JDU-RJD alliance, has almost sealed the fate of non-BJP opposition parties “grand alliance” design.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had welcomed the step taken by Nitish Kumar terming this as his fight against corruption. In a twitter message the Prime Minister said that 125 crore people of the country welcomed the decision of the Bihar Chief Minister.
It may be mentioned that the JDU-RJD alliance in Bihar was facing hard times in the wake of corruption charges against the family members of Lalu Prasad Yadav including his daughter Misa Bharti and Deputy CM son Tejaswi Yadav.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was under pressure to seek Tejaswi Yadav’s resignation and seek explanation on the corruption charges which was not complied by the deputy CM.
Interacting with the anxious media persons Nitish Kumar said that his decision to step down was taken in the interest of Bihar. “We have been asking the RJD leaders to come clean on corruption charges from the day one or at least give an explanation on them. We met Tejaswi Yadav and asked him to clarify in the face of the corruption charges. But we did not get positive response. The situation got so worse that it became difficult for me to continue as Chief Minister. We had adhered to the ‘Gathbandhan Dharma’ and tried to protect it. But now my conscience does not permit me to stick to the position”, Nitish Kumar said.
He said that he had informed about his decision to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Congress leader C P Joshi. “Before resigning, I had informed Laluji and Congress Bihar in-charge CP Joshi”, Nitish Kumar said.
The Chief Minister also said that he had spoken to Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi on the matter. “There are many Congress leaders in Bihar. We also asked them to find a solution to all this. So now I have decided to keep myself away,” said Kumar adding that his resignation has been accepted by the governor.
Meanwhile, the RJD camp has reacted sharply to Nitish Kumar’s decision. Shivananda Tiwari, a senior member of RJD retaliated saying “I have known Nitish for 40 years, he is no saint”, making it clear that the confrontation has reached to a point of no return.
The Bihar Assembly new session is slated to begin on Friday. The opposition would have raised this issue of corruption creating difficult moments for Nitish Kumar who has spoken recently of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards corruption and declared the defence offered by Lalu and Tejaswi as not up to the expectation. This has obviously infuriated the RJD camp.
“With folded hands, we requested Nitish Kumar to have a dialogue with us. But he did not listen to us. We said repeatedly said that you can't run a coalition without dialogue," accused Shivanand Tiwari.
The Yadavs say the corruption case, which names both of them, is the misuse of power by the central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is using investigative agencies like the CBI to hound opponents.
Since the case erupted on July 7 with raids at the Yadav home in Patna, Nitish Kumar and his party, the Janata Dal United, have made no utterances of support. The Congress, which is the third member of the Bihar alliance, initially backed Lalu Yadav, but has lately quietened down, reportedly because Nitish Kumar has made it clear that he cannot be talked out of demanding his 28-year-old deputy's resignation.
If the alliance in Bihar ends, it will puncture the hype that the opposition is trying to build around an 18-party front that hopes to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from winning a second term in 2019. The league has been fashioned on the Bihar alliance which saw former rivals Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav quitting their differences in 2015 and co-signing with the Congress to ensure that their collective support groups -a range of castes - became the wall that PM Modi ran into as he led the BJP's campaign in Bihar.