Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi quit minutes before a trust vote on Friday that he looked certain to lose despite the BJP's support, saying there was a plot to assassinate him.
Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi accepted the resignation that came in just five words: "I hereby resign from the post", while in a separate explanation, Manjhi outlined his "grave fear for his own personal safety and that of his nine ministerial colleagues".
"They could make an attempt on my life and that of my colleagues. Proving my majority, despite having 52 JD-U MLA's at my side at such cost was not worth it, neither would it have upheld the dignity of the house in such a situation," Manjhi said. "Which is the reason why I have chosen to resign."
Jitan Ram Manjhi on why he quit as Bihar CM
Manjhi's former mentor and his likely successor, Nitish Kumar, said the Bihar political drama and constitutional crisis was created by the BJP that led the outgoing chief minister up the garden path so it could capture power by proxy.
"We honoured Manjhi by putting him on the chief minister's seat. Instead of honouring the party's wish, he engaged himself again and again in attempts to embroil his own party in confusion and chaos and play out a BJP game to destroy the party," he said.
Kumar, who quit last year after the JD (U)'s rout in the Lok Sabha polls, sought forgiveness for the "mistake" he had made.
"Yes, I was wrong in quitting and running from responsibility by resigning. I seek pardon for it. I have erred. I will work with the same passion and take corrective steps for the benefit of the state," he said.
Kumar said he was waiting for Tripathi to make a decision, as he submitted letters of support from legislators to the governor on February 8.
Tripathi can now either accept Manjhi's recommendation to dissolve the House, or he can invite Kumar to form the next government.
Manjhi was expelled from the Janata Dal (United) this month after he refused to step down in favour of Kumar as the state CM.
He received a boost on Thursday when the BJP issued a whip to its 87 legislators to back him, while 12 of his ministerial colleagues stayed loyal to him.
However, against Kumar's 130 legislators, Manjhi's support stopped at 103.
Through an order passed in the wake of the developments, the governor adjourned with immediate effect a customary joint sitting of the state assembly and legislative council that he was slated to address on Friday, ahead of the floor test.
Manjhi ignored calls from former JD (U) colleagues to apologise and "come back home", declaring he would float a new political outfit with the announcement likely on February 28.
"A conclave is being organised here to decide on a new party," he said.
Manjhi launched a scathing attack on Kumar, alleging horse-trading by his camp, as he also slammed the speaker's conduct, which he said was against democratic tradition.
"MLAs told me about an offer of Rs 2 crore, a ministerial berth and ticket for assembly election from any seat of their choice from Nitish Kumar camp," he alleged.