The Telegraph
Tuesday , May 20 , 2014
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Declaration with fightback pledge

- Outgoing chief minister to guide government from outside, play bigger role in party decisions and launch nationwide mission to unite secular forces

A politician robbed off power is like a bird chopped of its wings. But Nitish Kumar apparently aims to grow far bigger in size and power by demitting his office.

“I shall not be lost. I shall stay amid you working relentlessly for the return of our party in power in 2015 elections. At the same time, I shall keep guiding our party’s government and save it from the BJP’s conspiracy to destabilise it,” Nitish told his incensed cadre insisting on him to take his resignation back ahead of picking up Jitan Ram Manjhi as his replacement.

By tendering his resignation on the moral grounds owning the responsibility of the JD(U)’s debacle at the hands of the BJP, Nitish has achieved at least three broad objectives. He has effectively quelled the dissidents, including his cabinet colleagues Narendra Singh and Ramai Ram besides some legislators who were openly gunning for him particularly after the party’s defeat in the general election.

Second, and most important, he has embarked on a long-drawn out battle with this ideological adversary and the Prime Minister-designate, Narendra Modi.

“I honour the verdict for in democracy the verdict is meant to be honoured. But I have not seen the elections taking place on the basis of such a communal polarisation. It is an extraordinary situation demanding extraordinary efforts and sacrifice,” Nitish said, clearly indicating that he would henceforth take up his battle against Modi at the national level.

Several senior leaders in the JD(U) revealed that Nitish would no longer confine himself to Bihar. “Nitish has the tendency to begin the battle against a leader when he (the leader) is at the height of his popularity and carry it out for a long period of time,” a senior party strategist said, recalling how Nitish had waged the war on Lalu Prasad way back in 1994 when the RJD chief was on the height of his fame and strength.

Nitish heavily lost against Lalu in the 1995 elections but carried on his battle against his former long standing friend and eventually replaced the 15-year-old Lalu-Rabri regime in 2005 — about 11 years after beginning the battle against the “jungle raj”.

“Spared the day-to-day government’s responsibility, Nitish would fan out in the nation uniting the secular democratic forces to face the new challenges,” the JD(U) chief, Sharad Yadav, said. Nitish himself gave enough hint of intensifying the battle against Modi and be in the vanguard of the “campaign” against the BJP.

Third, by demitting the office of the chief minister, Nitish effectively got the full control over the party apparatus, sidelining Sharad. The JD(U) legislature party on Monday unanimously nominated Nitish as its “supreme leader”, playing key roles in all the policies and decision-making.

“I shall guide the government and the party. I shall spearhead the campaign to bring the party back to power in 2015. I have got more responsibility now. I have struggled throughout my life for the cause of the people,” Nitish told his cadre, drawing emotional applaud from them.

Nitish at the same time expressed his dejection over the people rejecting his party at the hustings. “I have not got the mazdoori (wage) for the work I have done. I shall go the people to ask them why did they refuse to pay the wage to me. I have full faith among the people… they will have to eventually pay me the right wage,” Nitish said.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen had praised Nitish highly for turning around the fortune of Bihar and putting it on the fast track of development.

The parting shot of Nitish was aimed at the BJP. “They (read BJP leaders) were describing the high moral standard I set by resigning as a drama. On the day of results they demanded my resignation. Where are they now?” Nitish asked.