Nitish Kumar, who quit as Bihar’s Chief Minister after his Janata Dal United lost the national election, has chosen his close aide Jitan Ram Majhi as his successor.
Mr. Majhi, who belongs to one of the most underprivileged castes in the state, was among the JD (U) candidates who were defeated in the polls.
Mr. Kumar told the party that his decision to quit was not an ordinary one; it took a lot of courage.
“For whatever reasons, the mandate was not in my favour,” Mr. Kumar said, a day after JD (U) legislators insisted that he should take back his resignation and refused to choose another leader.
He said he would travel across Bihar to work for the party, which said he would stay in charge even if he didn’t remain Chief Minister.
The JD (U) has said it will stake claim to form a government again, and authorized Mr. Kumar to choose his own successor.
“Nitish Kumar may not remain Chief Minister but the party will work under his direction,” said party leader Vashisht Narayan Singh.
Mr. Kumar, 63, resigned on Saturday taking moral responsibility for the party’s drubbing in the national election.
The JD (U) won only two of Bihar’s 40 seats in the polls that have seen a massive mandate for its former ally, the BJP, with which it parted ways last year when it decided to project Narendra Modi.
The JD (U)’s refusal to let Mr. Kumar take a back seat may set him at odds with party Chief Sharad Yadav, who is seen as his rival within.
This morning, Mr. Yadav said, “The decision is in the nation’s favour, the party’s favour and Nitish Kumar’s favour. It is a tough decision but final and right.”
Sources say Nitish Kumar has told party legislators not to “heckle” Mr. Yadav.
State BJP leaders have stepped up their attacks on Mr. Kumar. Describing him as “drama king”, the party’s Ram Kirpal Yadav said, “The entire thing resignation drama was scripted. Nitish uses people and dumps them. Without power he is like a fish out of water.”