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BJP Offers Support To Nitish Kumar, To Join Government

NDTV logo NDTV 26-07-2017

NEW DELHI: The BJP will support a government led by Nitish Kumar, who dramatically resigned as Bihar Chief Minister on Wednesday evening, ending his mahagathbandhan or grand alliance with Lalu Yadav's RJD and the Congress. The BJP's most senior leader in the state Sushil Modi said he has spoken to Mr Kumar and would soon also inform the state's Governor.

"Nityanand Rai ji and I called Nitish ji. BJP has decided to support him and the government formed under him. We will inform the governor too," Mr Modi said.

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Sushil Modi, along with the BJP's state chief Nityanand Rai and other party leaders, is visiting Mr Kumar's residence tonight, before they meet Governor KN Tripathi. Nitish Kumar's party the Janata Dal United has 71 lawmakers in the 243-member Bihar assembly. With the support of the BJP's 53, he will have 124, just over the halfway mark he needs.

The BJP, which had earlier said it could offer Mr Kumar "outside support" has decided to join the new government, sources said. Central leaders JP Nadda and Anil Jain will reach Bihar tomorrow to oversee the new political developments.

Nitish Kumar Quits After Lalu Yadav Rules Out Tejashwi's Resignation

Shortly after Nitish Kumar met the Governor and handed in his resignation this evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "Many many congratulation to Nitish Kumarji for joining the fight against corruption. Over hundred million citizens are welcoming and supporting the honesty." Soon after, top leaders of the BJP met in Delhi evening to decide whether to support Mr Kumar.

Nitish Kumar resigned after his partner Lalu Yadav reiterated today that his son, Tejashwi Yadav, would not quit as the No 2 in the Bihar government despite being caught in a corruption scandal. "My conscience told me to quit," he said. To reporters who asked whether he would now partner with old ally, the BJP, Mr Kumar said, "We will decide on whatever is best for Bihar."

Nitish Kumar had a few years ago ended a long alliance with the BJP. He partnered with the Congress and former bitter rival Lalu Yadav to stop the BJP from winning the Bihar assembly elections in 2015. But it was an uncomfortable alliance, made more uneasy by Nitish Kumar repeatedly breaking ranks with his allies to back the BJP-led Centre on issues like demonetisation and the rollout of the landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST), which were criticised by the rest of the opposition.

It was seen to signal that Mr Kumar was open to switching sides ahead of national elections in 2019. The corruption charges against Lalu Yadav gave Nitish Kumar the exit route he needed. Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav "were strange bedfellows," said the BJP's senior leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday evening.

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