PATNA: Nitish Kumar has quit as the Bihar Chief Minister after he met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi this evening. At an earlier session with lawmakers from his party, the Janata Dal United or JDU, the Chief Minister said that he will return from the Governor’s home to inform them of his next move. That play will be centred on his deputy, Tejashwi Yadav, who is caught in a corruption scandal.
Earlier today, Tejashwi and his father, political veteran Lalu Yadav, said that the 28-year-old will not quit as Deputy Chief Minister on the basis of that they claim is a fake case filed against him by the CBI.
Through the day, events pointed to a climax of the political drama that has raged in Bihar for weeks. The Governor reportedly changed his travel plans to stay back for the meeting requested by the Chief Minister. Lalu Yadav, due to fly to Ranchi for a court appearance tomorrow, decided to drive there instead of flying, which allowed him to remain in Patna for a few extra hours at a crucial time.
Lalu Yadav’s party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, has the most seats in the Bihar assembly and is the biggest member of Nitish Kumar’s government. The JDU is next; the Congress is the third and most junior partner.
On July 7, Lalu and Tejashwi Yadav were named in a corruption case by the CBI which searched their Patna home. The Yadavs have attributed the case to a get-even attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who they allege is “scared” of their concerted opposition to him. Nitish Kumar indicated the defense did not wash with him, stressed that his “zero-tolerance to corruption” policy is unwavering, and amply hinted that Tejashwi Yadav should rise to the occasion by opting out of the government.
Today, Lalu Yadav’s party met and repeated that not only will Tejashwi Yadav remain in office, but that the Chief Minister’s suggestion of a public and detailed defense has not been accepted.
Statements from both sides today have indicated a flash point.
“I have known Nitish for 40 years, he is no saint,” said Shivanand Tiwari, a senior member of Lalu Yadav’s party. “We can’t compromise on Nitish’s clean image,” said KC Tyagi, a senior leader from the Chief Minister’s party.
The Congress’ top bosses, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, have attempted mediation with both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav.