New Delhi: Less than 24 hours after Nitish Kumar tore apart the Grand Alliance in Bihar, he was back as the state’s chief minister this time in alliance with the BJP. Kumar, who had become the chief minister in October, 2015 after winning the state elections that month in alliance with the RJD and the Congress, walked out of the Grand Alliance Wednesday complaining that it had become difficult for him to work under the present circumstances. The CBI raids on premises linked to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family and the corruption taint on his deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav had proved to be too much for Kumar to continue with that arrangement.
“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.
Earlier today, Kumar was sworn-in as the state’s chief minister for the second time in two years followed by BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi taking oath at the Raj Bhavan in Patna. Modi has earlier served as the state’s deputy chief minister between 2005 and 2013 as part of the JD(U)-BJP government and is likely to continue in that role. No other minister was sworn in. The BJP chose to support the JD(U) in government formation after it said that it did not favour ‘mid-term polls.’
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi even tweeting to congratulate Kumar for fighting against corruption, the picture was clear.
“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),” he said.
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.”
At the same time, Tejashwi Yadav, who met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi in the morning, was unable to persuade him to stall the swearing-in ceremony. RJD leaders complained that since theirs was the single-largest party in the Assembly with 80 MLAs, they should have been invited to form the government first. However, unlike the BJP-JD(U) combination that neatly crossed the half-way mark, an RJD-Congress alliance would have fallen short of getting a majority by almost 15 seats.
On his part, Lalu Prasad Yadav said, “There had been a setting with the BJP. When someone asked him (Nitish) if he could go with BJP, he did not say no. It clearly suggests BJP setting. The PM’s congratulatory tweet followed to prove my point.”
The RJD leader hoped faintly late Wednesday evening that even with Kumar resigning as chief minister, the parties in the Grand Alliance could sit together and elect a new leader.
“Nitish Kumar must not try to force the President’s rule. If he is not willing to rule Bihar, let there be new person to do so,” he said. But that did not happen. Nitish chose to take support from his old ally, the BJP, to form the next government.
As for the third partner in the alliance, the Congress has been left visibly distressed with the developments in Patna. Even a last-minute meeting between Kumar and Rahul Gandhi, in which the former is learnt to have raised the corruption allegations against Tejashwi, could not salvage the alliance.
This morning, Gandhi retorted, “Politics keliye unhi logon se gala lagaya, yehi tho problem hai indian politics mei (For politics he (Nitish) joined hands with the same people (BJP), this is the problem in Indian politics).”
“In politics, you come to know about what a person is thinking. I have known this for three-four months…People will do anything for power and self interest…,” he added.