The Janata Dal (United) Legislature Party re-elected Nitish Kumar as its leader on Sunday within 24 hours of his resignation as Chief Minister owning responsibility for the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha election in the State. The overwhelming support of the legislators for Mr. Kumar has left party chief Sharad Yadav isolated.
Mr. Kumar sought a day’s time to consider the Legislature Party’s decision. He will spell out his stand at an extended meeting of the legislative wing on Monday.
The MLAs virtually silenced Mr. Yadav when he sought to air his views at the meeting, sources said. At one point, he even walked out.
Mr. Yadav was heckled by party workers and had to face protests outside the Chief Minister’s residence for allowing Mr. Kumar to resign and pressing for the election of a new leader. Even dissident leaders in the JD(U) hailed Mr. Kumar as the only person capable of leading the government in Bihar and keeping the party united. The leaders were upset with Mr. Yadav for talking about an alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress.
By winning the confidence of the legislature party, Mr. Kumar has not only contained dissent within the party but also thwarted attempts by the BJP to split it.
The BJP has been claiming that it is in touch with 50 JD(U) legislators. The party leaders on Sunday called on Governor D.Y. Patil to request that he personally verify the veracity of the JD(U)’s claim of majority. The BJP, however, ruled out staking claim to form the government in the State, and demanded that the JD(U) parade all the legislators supporting it.