Nitish Kumar dropped a bombshell on Wednesday evening when he announced that he was stepping down as the state’s chief minister and, in effect, walking away from the secular coalition, which had won a landslide in 2015.
In a veiled attack, he blamed the RJD chief, Lalu Yadav, and the Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi for forcing him to take the difficult decision.
Speaking to reporters he said that he was only answering to the voice of his inner self adding that he had been thinking about this for quite sometime.
I had met even Rahul Gandhi because I know he too shares my views (on corruption). He had torn ordinance (protecting corrupt politicians). But even he kept quiet and did not say anything,” Kumar said.
Kumar was under pressure to act against his deputy chief minister and the leader of his coalition party, the RJD, after the CBI began probe into corruption charges against him.
He said that he had only asked for a clarification on the corruption charges against RJD leader.
However, as political pundits pointed out, the real story was far from what Kumar told media.
The decision to walk away from the coalition was taken last month when Kumar’s party threw its weight behind the BJP’s candidate for the president’s elections, Ram Nath Kovind. Although, Kumar personally had begun warming up to the BJP since November when he openly supported the demonetisation.
On Wednesday, Kumar surprised everyone when he hurriedly preponed the scheduled meeting of his MLAs from 29 July to 26 July. The RJD chief, Lalu Yadav, detected a political conspiracy in Kumar calling an emergency meeting of his MLAs three days ahead of its scheduled date. He too summoned his legislators for an emergency meeting soon after noon on Wednesday.
Lalu reminded Kumar how it was he who had made him the chief minister.
He said, “Why would I destabilise him? I made him Chief Minister.”
Although Kumar’s party had made up its mind to return to BJP’s fold long ago, Lalu’s comments reminding him how the former’s party had made him the chief minister was the last straw.
One JDU insider told Janta Ka Reporter that Kumar wasted no time in speaking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon after Lalu’s comments became public.
“After this, everything else was a mere formality. Nitish ji is known to be a man of huge ego. Do whatever but you never hurt his ego. Lalu’s comments prompted him to quickly decide he was walking away from the coalition,” said the source.
The BJP leadership quickly established contact with Kumar to thrash out the modalities of forming a new government. It’s not a coincidence that Keshari Nath Tripathi, Bengal’s governor, who also has additional charge of Bihar, was in Patna on Wednesday.
Another coincidence was the lightening speed with which Modi posted a series of tweets just moments after Kumar’s resignation.
Some reporters, who cover the BJP, told Janta Ka Reporter that senior leaders such as Ravi Shankar Prasad had tipped them off to be on standby for a short notice interview on Wednesday. This was in anticipation that something big was likely to happen in Indian politics and that Prasad and his colleagues would be available for quick reactions.
One source in RJD said that, sensing danger to mahagathbandhan, Lalu had finally conceded to the idea of having both his sons removed from the cabinet, but his wife Rabri Devi was adamant.
“It was Rabri ji, who said her sons are not resigning at any cost,” said the source.
Soon after Kumar made the shock announcement, the entire group of BJP MLAs arrived at his house at 1 Anne Marg. Kumar was seen in an unusually good mood while interacting with his former political adversaries.
Kumar is all set to take oath as the state’s new chief minister with the help of the BJP, the party he demonised and abused to win the 2015 assembly elections. All of a sudden, for Kumar, secularism has become meaningless in his quest to secure his political future.
This is what he had tweeted about Modi and his communal politics just two years ago:
The real Modi on display-brazen attempt to add communal texture to Bihar polls,but deafening silence on deplorable incidence of Dadri (1/2)
— Nitish Kumar (@NitishKumar) October 8, 2015