The decision on whether Nitish Kumar would get another term as Bihar’s chief minister will be formalised today at a legislators’ meeting of the National Democratic Alliance, which won majority seats in the recently concluded polls.
The meeting comes days after the BJP-Janata Dal United (JDU) combine claimed majority in the Bihar Assembly, and Mr Kumar tendered his resignation to Governor Phagu Chauhan.
“Things will be discussed in detail (at the legislature party meeting) and all decisions will be taken at that time,” Mr Kumar had told reporters after a meeting of NDA leaders at his residence on Friday. This was the first such meeting after the Bihar election result was declared on November 10.
Despite pre- and post-poll reassurances from the BJP that Nitish Kumar would retain the chief minister’s post, speculations have been rife about his re-election for a fourth term since the JDU could only scoop up 45 seats with its vote share dropping to 15 per cent.
The NDA emerged as the winning alliance in Bihar polls bagging 125 seats, 2 more than the majority mark in the 243-member House, but 73 were pulled in by BJP, elevating the once junior partner to the “big brother’s position”.
The numbers are being seen as a mandate for the ruling alliance, but against Mr Kumar as the chief minister.
Critics have also hinted that BJP tacitly supported the exit of ally-turned-rival Chirag Paswan to undermine Mr Kumar’s influence within the NDA.
Mr Paswan had only fielded candidates against Mr Kumar leading to speculations if he had a tacit understanding with the BJP. He could win only one seat in the election, but with over 5 percent votes, hurt Mr Kumar’s JDU badly. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on Chirag Paswan’s often-personal attacks on Mr Kumar also raised eyebrows.
Questions are also being raised about whether Mr Paswan would continue to be a party of the ruling combine at the centre, with Nitish Kumar saying he has left the decision up to the BJP.
On Thursday, Tejashwi Yadav also took a swipe at Mr Kumar, saying his party RJD was the winner of the election as the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister couldn’t stop it from becoming the single-largest party with 75 seats.
“See where Nitish Kumar’s glow has gone. He has been pushed to third position. This is a mandate for change. Nitish Kumar is sitting in the Chief Minister’s chair but we are in people’s hearts,” he said.