Bihar chief minister dismisses all 11 BJP ministers, to seek confidence vote on 19 June
statesman news service
PATNA/NEW DELHI, 16 JUNE: In a major blow to the NDA ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections, the Janata Dal (United) led by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today formally ended its 17-year-old relationship with the BJP. The severance of ties is a response to the elevation of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as chief of BJP&’s election campaign committee.
Mr Nitish Kumar removed 11 BJP ministers from the Bihar Cabinet and decided to seek a vote of confidence on 19 June in view of the “new situation”. The JD-U also walked out of the NDA, with Mr Sharad Yadav resigning as its convenor.
The BJP-led NDA is now left with only three constituents ~ BJP, Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal. The BJP national leadership said the development was “sad and unfortunate” but contended that this was “not the end of the world” and that more allies would come to the NDA. The Bihar unit, more forthright, termed it a betrayal and called a state-wide bandh, even as JD-U workers danced through the streets of Patna, smearing gulal on each others’ faces and bursting crackers.
JD-U president Sharad Yadav and Mr Kumar announced the break-up of the coalition at a Press conference exactly a week after Mr Modi&’s elevation, which was widely perceived as just a step short of his being made the prime ministerial candidate.
Mr Kumar, significantly, recommended to the Governor to dismiss all the 11 BJP ministers from the Cabinet, instead of giving them an honourable exit by asking them to resign.
The chief minister took the step shortly after a meeting of the party ministers, legislators and senior leaders at his official residence this afternoon, during which the party authorised him to snap ties with the BJP. The meeting was chaired by Mr Sharad Yadav. Soon after, Mr Kumar went to Raj Bhawan and asked the Governor to convene a special session of the Bihar Assembly on 19 June to seek a vote of confidence. The development took place after days of bitter verbal duels between the two NDA partners.
“Friendship runs on mutual understanding but the present situation was such that we found it was better for both of us to separate. Neither the BJP nor the JD-U would have gained had we continued further. So we decided to break ties,” Mr Yadav said. He said the NDA had deviated from its “national agenda” upon which the allies had lent their support.
Mr Kumar said they had to take this decision with a heavy heart. “As long as there was no external interference in the Bihar alliance, it ran smoothly. Problems began only when the external interference increased three years ago,” he said in an oblique reference to his Gujarat counterpart. When mediapersons asked Mr Kumar to explain what he meant by “external interferences”, he resorted to an old Bollywood line: “Samajhnewale samajh gaye hain, na samajhe wo aanari hai (Those who understand have understood, those who haven’t are naive)”.
He said the JD-U was not responsible for the break-up. “We were forced to take this decision since the situation was such that we could not have compromised with our principles,” said Mr Kumar, adding he was not thinking about consequences.
WHO SAID WHAT
We cannot compromise with our basic principles. We are not worried about the consequences. As long as the alliance was Bihar-centric, there was no problem. But we had no alternative now. We are not responsible. We were forced to take this decision.
You want to form the government, but don’t be under the misconception. No single party is going to get the majority. It requires 272 MPs to make somebody the Prime Minister. For that, the NDA has to get more allies. If people think there is some wave or a storm is blowing in their favour, they are under a misconception. ~ Nitish Kumar
The break-up of NDA is sad and unfortunate. ~ Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha
This is not the end of the world. More allies will come to NDA. ~ Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP Vice President
A divorce of love marriage between two mismatching partners. ~ Lalu Prasad, RJD chief