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Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday submitted his resignation to governor DY Patil, a day after the JD-U’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections.
A Bihar Rajbhawan release said, that governor DY Patil had accepted the resignation but requested Nitish Kumar to continue in a caretaker role till the next government is formed.
The leading contenders to the post from within the JD-U are Narendra Singh, the senior most minister after Kumar and the agricultrure minister, Bijendra Yadav, minister for power, and a Sharad Yadav acolyte, Vijay Kumar Choudhary, the water resources minister. However, Narendra Singh is the most likely to emerge the JDULP leader with possible BJP support from outside.
The JD-U won only two of the 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar. In 2009, it won 20 seats in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“I led the election campaign from the front. I take full moral responsibility for the poll results and have tendered my resignation,” Nitish said at press conference.
In an oblique attack on the BJP’s prime minister-designate Narendra Modi, Nitish said the results showed polarisation on communal lines like never before. “The campaigning this election season was not issue-based. Parties relied on allegations and counter-allegations to appeal to the voters. We followed strong principles during our campaign,” he said.
“If you (people) fail to stop this communal tide, it would consume my government, your government,” Nitish had said before the election results were declared on Friday.
“We respect the verdict of the people. Results show a clear mandate for the BJP. We hope their government will focus on important issues at hand. I hope they stick to the promises they made during campaigning,” he added.
Nitish also clarified he did not ask for the dissolution of the Bihar assembly. “I am merely resigning from my post. A government can still be made with as we have a majority in the House,” the JD-U leader said.
He said MLAs of the JD-U were to meet at 4pm on Sunday to plan the next step. “There is no problem of majority,” he said.
On being asked whether parting ways with the BJP was a mistake, Nitish said the decision was “absolutely correct”. “The decision was not based on poll strategy but on moral grounds. It was the right thing to do,” he said.
Reacting over the Bihar chief minister’s decision to resign, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “Jo unhone ne Modi ji ka apmaan kiya tha uska jawaab janta ne unhe de diya hai.”
This time, the BJP won 22 seats and its allies, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) won six and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) won three seats. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) won four, while its ally Congress bagged two and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) managed to win one seat.
Nitish’s own men were believed to be questioning his decision to part ways with the BJP. With 117 JD-U MLAs, Nitish had won a trust vote with the help of four Congress MLAs, four Independents and a CPI legislator in the 243-member Bihar assembly. The ruling alliance needs the support of at least 122 MLAs.
Since then, Nitish expelled five of his MLAs for ‘anti-party activities’ that took the alliance’s number below the majority figure. “The outcome of the national elections will have an impact on the state government,” Nitish had admitted in a TV interview last week.
Upbeat over unexpected victory, the BJP had demanded Nitish’s resignation for his party's rout in polls.
"As chief minister has lost the confidence of people, he should resign with immediate effect owning moral responsibility for the debacle of his party in the state," said senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.
Barely two days back, BJP's ally LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan said that after result of the Lok Sabha elections, the Nitish government would fall as dozens of its legislators would desert him and there will be mid-term polls to the state assembly in November 2014.
“It is clear Nitish Kumar has lost the confidence of the people,” Chirag, who won from Jamui, said.
Nitish has been in the saddle since November 24, 2005, and won a second term in the 2010 assembly elections.