PatnaL: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday, January 27, appeared all set to make his second political volte-face in less than three years, with a highly-placed source close to Kumar saying that the JD (U) President is likely to tender his resignation by Sunday morning.
The source, who requested anonymity, told PTI that though there was a possibility of Kumar resigning by late Saturday evening,”It would definitely take place by Sunday morning”.
The comments came even as RJD leaders held extensive deliberations over the course of action to be followed in the event of Kumar calling off the alliance and returning to the BJP-led NDA.
Before submitting his resignation, Kumar will hold a customary meeting of the legislature party, the source added.
He also said government offices like the secretariat have been asked to remain open on Sunday “in view of hectic activity expected during the day” that may see the installation of a new government with the BJP’s support.
Meanwhile, Janata Dal (United)’s political adviser and spokesperson K C Tyagi told reporters in Delhi that the grand alliance government in Bihar is on the verge of collapse, and accused a section of the Congress leadership of repeatedly “insulting” Kumar.
“The INDIA bloc is on the verge of collapse. The alliance of INDIA bloc parties is almost over in Punjab, West Bengal and Bihar,” he said.
Also on Saturday, state BJP leaders, who held a meeting in Patna, stopped short of making any formal announcement of support to the JD(U) chief in the event of his pulling out of the Mahagathbandhan.
Requesting anonymity, BJP sources said instructions have been received from the top leadership to put on hold “any formal announcement” till Kumar, who had dumped the NDA less than three years ago, put in his papers.
For Kumar, who has maintained a deafening silence over the turmoil in the Mahagathbandhan’, ignoring pleas from allies RJD, Congress and the Left to clear the air about the intense political speculation on his future step, it was business as usual.
Apart from flagging off new fire brigade engines at the city’s veterinary college ground, he visited Buxar for the inauguration of a beautification project of a renowned temple, a project of the tourism department that is held by his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, who remained conspicuous by his absence.
The attendees included senior BJP leader and Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey, who is the local MP. He declined to comment on the ongoing upheaval.
BJP state in-charge Vinod Tawde, who was in Patna to attend the meeting, also kept cards close to the chest but blamed the Congress for the imminent “break up” of Nitish Kumar with the opposition bloc INDIA, of which the JD (U) leader was seen as the veritable architect.
Upon Kumar’s return to Patna, top leaders of the JD(U) started gathering at the official residence of the party president amid strong signals that he may put in his papers as chief minister and stake claim for the formation of a new government with the BJP’s support.
Leaders of the RJD also gathered at the residence of national vice-president and former chief minister Rabri Devi, who shares her government bungalow with Tejashwi Yadav, her son, and husband Lalu Prasad, who is the party president.
All party leaders were made to deposit their mobile phones outside the gates of 10, Circular Road, the house situated at a stone’s throw from the chief minister’s residence.
Sources claiming to be in the know of things said the deliberations were about the course of action to be followed in the event of Kumar calling off the alliance.
While some RJD leaders are said to be in favour of staking claim to form the new government, hoping to cobble up the support of eight MLAs the Mahagathbandhan’ requires to go past the majority mark, others, including Tejashwi Yadav, appear to be not impressed with the idea since the JD(U) and the BJP together have more than 122 members in the 243-strong assembly.