Mauled in the Lok Sabha elections and facing dissidence within, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today resigned but interestingly did not seek dissolution of the Assembly injecting a dramatic turn in the state politics.
"The Lok Sabha election results have not been good for JD(U). The people's mandate has to be respected. So, I have tendered the resignation of my council of ministers. I had led the campaign. So, it is my duty to take moral responsibility and I must take," he told reporters after sending the resignation to Governor D Y Patil.
However, he made it clear that he had not sought dissolution of the Assembly and options were open for formation of an alternative government.
Apparently taking a high moral ground, Kumar said he has called a meeting of the JD(U) legislature party tomorrow to elect a new leader and maintained that there was no threat to the government which enjoys majority.
In the 243-member Bihar Assembly, JD(U) has 115 members while BJP has 89 and RJD 21. JD(U) has the support of four members of Congress, one of CPI and two independents. There are six vacancies.
Apart from the drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections in which JD(U) bagged only two of the 40 seats in the state, the chief minister was also said to be facing severe dissidence in the party over breaking relations with BJP last year after Narendra Modi was projected as prime ministerial contender.
Asked why he did not seek dissolution the Assembly, Kumar said he had played a leading role in the constitution of the Assembly in 2010. The Assembly has a tenure of five years and he did not want it to be "disturbed".
Observers believe JD(U) may stake claim to continue in power under a new leader who is to be elected tomorrow.