The resignation of chief minister Nitish Kumar has triggered speculation over who among the JD-U legislators would be the next chief minister of Bihar.
The JD(U) legislature party, scheduled to meet Sunday afternoon, is tipped to re-elect Kumar in view of his ‘dramatic’ resignation as railway minister after the Gaisal rail accident. But party insiders said he might opt for one of his handpicked leaders as his successor and go for fresh cabinet-formation exercise.
Eleven cabinet berths have been vacant since the BJP quit the ministry last year.
The names doing the rounds in Patna were that of state party president Bashistha Narayan Singh, agriculture minister Narendra Singh, water resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary and minister for public relations Brishen Patel.
“Leaders like Bashishtha Singh or Choudhary will suit the JD-U leader,” a party leader close to Kumar told HT.
“The JDLP meeting on Sunday will elect its new leader or pave the way for the formation of a new government. It would be too early to comment on the issue,” said Choudhary.
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A section of the JD-U leadership said the resignation was a deft move by Kumar to scuttle rebels’ attempts to form a government with the support of any “other party” from outside – most likely the BJP, which has 89 MLAs.
It is believed that several party legislators led by Narendra Singh and Patel were trying to form an alternative government without Kumar. Before the polls, they had questioned the distribution of party tickets to ‘outsiders’. They had also sought the intervention of party president Sharad Yadav in the selection of candidates.
Last Thursday, five of 14 ministers avoided a cabinet meeting while others voiced concerns over the party policies, which had brought about the JD-U’s downturn.
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They had included some of the chief ministerial hopefuls, including two close to Yadav.