Former Union revenue secretary and Rajya Sabha member NK Singh on Friday quit the Janata Dal (United) amid talks that he might join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
If 73-year-old Singh, who claimed to be upset with the progress of development works in Bihar, joins the saffron camp, it would be a fresh blow to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
In the caste-ridden politics of Bihar, Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan had earlier joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in a move that may weaken Kumar's hold over backward caste votes in the state.
Kumar, a bitter critic of BJP's prime minister nominee, Narendra Modi, is also fighting a rebellion that has already reared its head in the JD(U).
Singh, who could be the latest entrant in BJP after heavyweights such as Ram Kripal Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal leader from Bihar) and Satpal Maharaj (Congress parliamentarian from Uttarakhand), told HT that he had conveyed his decision to quit in a letter to Kumar.
"I have already sent my resignation to Nitish Kumar," he said on Friday evening.
Expressing his disappointment over the prevailing situation in Bihar, Singh said ever since the JD(U) decided to part ways with the NDA in mid-2013, development activities had taken a back seat.
Singh added he had joined the JD(U) at a time when the state government was putting up a good show in development works in Bihar.
"The situation has changed now. I have conveyed to the chief minister that his government was now more concerned about political survival rather than development of the state."
The former bureaucrat, who has been instrumental in building a brand image of Bihar at the national and international levels, was recently denied re-nomination to the Rajya Sabha earlier this year. His term will end shortly.
Singh was offered the Banka parliamentary constituency to contest the Lok Sabha polls instead. He, however, had declined the offer.
Two other Rajya Sabha members Shivanand Tiwary and Sabir Ali were also denied re-nomination, and offered the Buxar and Sheohar Lok Sabha seats, respectively. While Tiwary declined the offer, Sabir Ali will contest the Lok Sabha polls from Sheohar.
Considered the architect of Bihar's growth model and a strong votary of special category status to the state, Singh had given enough indications of his rift with the Bihar chief minister during his farewell speech in the Rajya Sabha.
He had said the credit for Bihar's turnaround and far-reaching economic and social changes could not be given to one person or party.
"They were collective efforts by both the constituents of the NDA that played a crucial role in bringing about these far reaching changes," he had added.
Though he did not confirm his next political move of joining the BJP, Singh admitted that he had held discussions with senior leaders of the saffron party.
"I have worked under former prime minister (and senior BJP leader) Atal Bihari Vajpayee... The foundations of the present economic development were laid then only."