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Nitish Kumar’s resignation: How the day unfolded in the power corridors of Bihar

Patna’s New Capital area, which is the political power hub of Bihar, remained tense through the day.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2017 00:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Patna
Nitish Kumar,Nitish Kumar News,Bihar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav during inauguration of 'Kisan Samagam' at Gyan Bhawan in Patna on June 16, 2017. (PTI)

The first indication that something was not right in the power corridors of Patna and that a big decision was in the offing had come earlier in the day.

Bihar governor in-charge Keshari Nath Tripathi suddenly decided to stay back in Patna, moments after he had presided over a convocation ceremony of the Nalanda Open University. He gave no reasons for not returning to Kolkata as scheduled.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad was the next to surprise – cancelling his travel to Ranchi to appear in the fodder scam cases, delaying just enough for the JD(U) legislature party meeting to end and know what had transpired. The Nitish bombshell came at 7 pm. The RJD was not in government anymore.

Patna’s New Capital area, which is the political power hub of Bihar, too remained tense through the day with legislators of various parties trooping in for meetings, even as the media kept a hawk’s eye on the developments.

Would the Grand Alliance, teetering on the edge, collapse today? Nobody knew until RJD chief Lalu Prasad emerged from his own meeting with legislators at 2.30 pm to declare, “The GA will not fall, notwithstanding the BJP’s efforts to hijack Nitish.” He was proved wrong not long after.

There had been no word on what was cooking, either from the JD(U) or even the Congress, whose leaders sulked. The silence from the two non-RJD camp was pregnant with meaning, especially after the hard talk in the morning, with both RJD and JD(U) spokespersons maintaining their rigid stands that, deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, named in a CBI FIR in the railway hotels-for-land scam during his father’s tenure, would neither explain nor resign in the face of the JD(U)’s stand that “there would be no compromise on corruption”.

Sharad Yadav, offered no hint, perhaps aware about the impending decision, though state BJP chief Nityanand Rai said his party was amenable to an alliance without pre-conditions.

All hell broke loose after 7 pm, with the BJP legislature meeting being convened immediately, where its leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the BJP was not in favour of a mid-term election and the party could consider supporting a like-minded ally.

The build-up to the standoff and final showdown was long in the making, complicated by the JD(U)’s support for demonetisation, the surgical strikes against Pakistan, and the candidature of governor Ram Nath Kovind for the presidentship. Another hint of the growing fissures in the GA came recently when Nitish skipped the lunch with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, only to show up at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lunch for the visiting Mauritius Prime Minister.

At Kovind’s swearing-in, Kumar was also seen mixing more with the NDA leaders and seated in the first row, creating doubts even in the Congress on whether he would play ball.

The Congress which tried to play the peacemaker failed, with the JD(U) insisting that it would not compromise on Nitish Kumar’s clean image and Tejashwi would have to come clean on the charges raised by the CBI FIR, or resign.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 22:07 IST