Nitish resigns after Lalu rules out Tejashwi ouster. PM Modi congratulates him
Nitish Kumar has resigned as the Chief Minister of Bihar.
According to television news reports, the CM went to Raj Bhavan to meet acting Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Wednesday and submitted his resignation.
This came hours after his Grand Alliance partner and RJD chief Lalu Prasad had categorically refused to get Deputy Chief Minister and son Tejashwi Yadav to resign.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his 'congratulations' to Nitish for 'joining the fight against corruption'.
भ्रष्टाचार के ख़िलाफ़ लड़ाई में जुड़ने के लिए नीतीश कुमार जी को बहुत-बहुत बधाई।— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 26, 2017
सवा सौ करोड़ नागरिक ईमानदारी का स्वागत और समर्थन कर रहे हैं
देश के, विशेष रूप से बिहार के उज्जवल भविष्य के लिए राजनीतिक मतभेदों से ऊपर उठकर भ्रष्टाचार के ख़िलाफ़ एक होकर लड़ना,आज देश और समय की माँग है— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 26, 2017
The final straw
Speaking to reporters after a key party meeting in Patna, Lalu had asserted that the Grand Alliance was stitched with great difficulty, and it would serve its full five-year term. “At least, the RJD will not be the party to take the first step that would endanger the alliance,” he added.
The RJD supremo's message for the Chief Minister was part-aggressive, part-conciliatory. Claiming credit for formation of the alliance's government, Lalu sought to remind Nitish that he had made him the CM. Adopting a placatory tone soon, he also asserted that Nitish was the alliance's CM, and the RJD would not tolerate any insult directed at him.
The former CM also claimed that Nitish had not even sought Tejashwi's resignation, and the entire issue was a media creation. For belligerent JD(U) spokespersons, Lalu's message was that they aren't the police or the CBI, to whom Tejashwi will give answers.
Nitish had spoken on the controversy for the first time in Delhi a day earlier. “It is for all to see how the alliance is performing. It is a collective responsibility,” he said, essentially nudging the RJD to realise that action needed to be taken to save the image of the alliance and the government.
Following his statement, all eyes were on the RJD's statement, but Lalu's assertions made it clear that his party was not ready to let only the CBI raids on Lalu and his family influence their stay in power.
He had made it amply clear that if Nitish was unhappy with the situation, he would have to make his feelings public, and say in as many words that he wanted the Deputy CM to step down.
The strategy was clearly to let Nitish take the blame for ending the alliance. Lalu had said previously that he would be the last person to end the alliance.
RJD leaders had also been saying that Nitish could not claim a moral high ground on corruption, as he himself had been named in serious criminal cases. They did not name any particular case, but one case from 1991, pending in the Patna High Court, did mention Nitish as an accused on a range of charges, including murder and attempt to murder. Cognisance has been taken in the case.
The JD(U) had indeed been creating pressure on Tejashwi and the RJD to come clean on the charges levelled by the CBI. JD(U) spokespersons had even vaguely mentioned the need for the Deputy CM to resign, although the CM had not specifically mentioned that.
The JD(U), however, had been trying to give out the message that Nitish was viewing the raids seriously, and that taking no action in the case would dent his clean image.
Of course, the JD(U) would've realised that it was the junior partner in the alliance, and also does not hold as large a vote bank in the state as RJD.
However, Nitish's intermittent support for the NDA's campaigns created an impression that he wanted to break away from the Grand Alliance and return to the NDA fold.
This had served to push the RJD on to the back foot. Its leaders admitted that the situation was not good, and they were therefore formulating a range of contingency plans. These included reaching out to a range of political parties and leaders to stitch an alternative Grand Alliance.