Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar (born 1 March 1951) is an Indian politician, who is serving as Chief Minister of Bihar since 22 February 2015, having previously held the office from 2005 to 2014 and for a short period in 2000. The leader of the Janata Dal (United), previously he has also served as a Union Minister as the member of Samata Party (now led by Uday Mandal)[1].[2]

Nitish Kumar
CM Nitish Kumar Potrait.jpg
22nd Chief Minister of Bihar
Assumed office
22 February 2015
Governor
Deputy
Preceded byJitan Ram Manjhi
In office
24 November 2010 – 20 May 2014
Preceded byHimself
Succeeded byJitan Ram Manjhi
In office
24 November 2005 – 24 November 2010
Preceded byPresident's rule
Succeeded byHimself
In office
3 March 2000 – 10 March 2000
Preceded byRabri Devi
Succeeded byRabri Devi
Union Minister of Railways
In office
20 March 2001 – 21 May 2004
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byMamata Banerjee
Succeeded byLalu Prasad Yadav
In office
19 March 1998 – 5 August 1999
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byRam Vilas Paswan
Succeeded byMamata Banerjee
Union Minister of Agriculture
In office
27 May 2000 – 21 July 2001
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Succeeded bySunder Lal Patwa
In office
22 November 1999 – 3 March 2000
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded bySunder Lal Patwa
Succeeded byAjit Singh
Union Minister of Surface Transport
In office
13 October 1999 – 22 November 1999
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byM. Thambidurai
Succeeded byJaswant Singh
In office
14 April 1998 – 5 August 1999
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byJaswant Singh
Succeeded byRajnath Singh
Personal details
Born (1951-03-01) 1 March 1951 (age 71)
Bakhtiarpur, Bihar, India
Political partyJanata Dal (United) (2003–present)
Mahagathbandhan (2015–2017; 2022–present)
Other political
affiliations
National Democratic Alliance (2003–2013; 2017–2022)
Samata Party (1994-2005)
Janata Dal (1989–1994)
SpouseManju Sinha
ChildrenNishant Kumar (son)
Alma materNational Institute of Technology, Patna (B.E)
Signature

Kumar first entered politics as a member of the Janata Dal, becoming an MLA in 1985. A socialist, Kumar founded the Samata Party in 1994 along with George Fernandes. In 1996 he was elected to the Lok Sabha, and served as a Union Minister in the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with his party joining the National Democratic Alliance. In 2003 his party merged into the Janata Dal (United), and Kumar became its leader.

In 2005, the NDA won a majority in the Bihar Legislative Assembly, and Kumar became chief minister heading a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party. In the 2010 state elections, the governing coalition won re-election in a landslide. In June 2013, Kumar broke with the BJP after Narendra Modi was named as their candidate for prime minister, and formed the Mahagathbandhan, a coalition with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Indian National Congress.

On 17 May 2014, Kumar resigned as chief minister after the party suffered severe losses in the 2014 Indian general election, and was replaced by Jitan Ram Manjhi. However, he attempted to return as chief minister in February 2015, sparking a political crisis that eventually saw Manjhi resign and Kumar become chief minister again. Later that year, the Mahagathbandhan won a large majority in the state elections. In 2017, Kumar broke with the RJD over corruption allegations and returned to the NDA, leading another coalition with the BJP; at the 2020 state elections his government was narrowly reelected. In August 2022 Kumar left the NDA, rejoining the Mahagathbandhan(Grand Alliance) and UPA.[3][4]

Early lifeEdit

Kumar was born on 1 March 1951 in Bakhtiarpur, Bihar. His father, Kaviraj Ram Lakhan Singh, was an ayurvedic practitioner; his mother was Parmeshwari Devi.[5] Nitish belongs to Kurmi agricultural caste.[6][7] Nitish Kumar's Nickname Is 'Munna'.[8][9]

He has earned a degree in Electrical Engineering [10] from Bihar College of Engineering (now NIT Patna) in 1972.[11] He joined the Bihar State Electricity Board, half-heartedly,[citation needed] and later moved into politics.[12] He married Manju Kumari Sinha (1955-2007) on 22 February 1973 and the couple has one son.[7] Manju Sinha died in New Delhi on 14 May 2007 due to pneumonia.[13]

Early political careerEdit

Kumar belongs to a socialist class of politicians. During his early years as a politician he was associated with Ram Manohar Lohia, S. N. Sinha, Karpuri Thakur, and V. P. Singh.[11][14] Kumar participated in Jayaprakash Narayan's movement between 1974 and 1977[15] and joined the Janata party headed by Satyendra Narain Sinha.[16]

Kumar fought and first time won his election to the state assembly from Harnaut in 1985. In the initial years, Lalu Prasad Yadav was backed by Kumar as leader of the opposition in Bihar Assembly in the year 1989 but Kumar later switched his loyalty to BJP in 1996, after winning his first Lok Sabha seat from Barh.[17]

The Janata Dal had survived the splits in past when leaders like Kumar and George Fernandes defected to form the Samata Party in 1994, but it remained a baseless party after the decision of Yadav to form Rashtriya Janata Dal in 1997. The second split took place prior to Rabri Devi assuming power which resulted in Janata Dal having only two leaders of any consequence in it, namely Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan. Paswan was regarded as the rising leader of Dalits and had the credit of winning his elections with unprecedented margins. His popularity reached to the national level when he was awarded the post of Minister of Railways in the United Front government in 1996 and was subsequently made the leader of Lok Sabha. His outreach was witnessed in the western Uttar Pradesh too, when his followers organised an impressive rally at the behest of a newly floated organisation called Dalit Panthers.[18]

Sharad Yadav was also a veteran socialist leader but without any massive support base. In the 1998 Parliamentary elections, the Samata Party and Janata Dal, which was in a much weaker position after the formation of RJD ended up eating each other's vote base. This made Kumar merge both the parties to form Janata Dal (United).[19]

In 1999 Lok Sabha elections Rashtriya Janata Dal received a setback at the hand of BJP+JD(U) combine. The new coalition emerged leading in 199 out of 324 assembly constituencies and it was widely believed that in the forthcoming election to Bihar state assembly, the Lalu-Rabri rule will come to an end. The RJD had fought the election in an alliance with the Congress but the coalition didn't work making state leadership of Congress believe that the maligned image of Lalu Prasad after his name was drawn in the Fodder Scam had eroded his support base. Consequently, Congress decided to fight the 2000 assembly elections alone.[citation needed]

The RJD had to be satisfied with the communist parties as coalition partners but the seat-sharing conundrum in the camp of National Democratic Alliance made Kumar pull his Samta Party out of the Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan faction of the Janata Dal. Differences also arose between the BJP and Kumar as the latter wanted to be projected as the Chief Minister of Bihar but the former was not in favour. Even Paswan also wanted to be a CM face. The Muslims and OBCs were too divided in their opinion. A section of Muslims, which included the poor communities like Pasmanda were of the view that Lalu only strengthened upper Muslims like Shaikh, Sayyid and Pathans and they were in search of new options.[20]

Yadav also alienated other dominant backward castes like Koeri and Kurmi since his projection as the saviour of Muslims. It is argued by Sanjay Kumar that the belief that, "the dominant OBCs like the twin caste of Koeri-Kurmi will ask for share in power if he (Yadav) seeks their support while the Muslims will remain satisfied with the protection during communal riots only" made Yadav neglect them. Moreover, the divisions in both the camps made the political atmosphere in the state a charged one in which many parties were fighting against each other with no visible frontiers. JD(U) and BJP were fighting against each other on some of the seats and so was the Samta Party. The result was a setback for the BJP, which in media campaigns was emerging with a massive victory. RJD emerged as the single largest party and with the political manoeuvring of Lalu Yadav, Rabri Devi was sworn in as the Chief Minister again.[21] The media largely failed to gauge the ground level polarisation in Bihar.[20] According to Sanjay Kumar:

there can be no doubt about one thing that the upper-caste media was always anti-Lalu and it was either not aware of the ground level polarisation in Bihar, or deliberately ignored it. If the election result did not appear as a setback for RJD, it was largely because of the bleak picture painted by the media. Against this background, RJD's defeat had appeared like a victory.[22]

Even after serving imprisonment in connection with the 1997 scam, Lalu seemed to relish his role as the lower-caste jester. He argued that corruption charges against him and his family were the conspiracy of the upper-caste bureaucracy and media elites threatened by the rise of peasant cultivator castes.

In 2004 General elections, Lalu's RJD had outperformed other state-based parties by winning 26 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. He was awarded the post of Union Railway minister but the rising aspirations of the extremely backward castes unleashed by him resulted in JD(U) and BJP led coalition to defeat his party in 2005 Bihar Assembly elections.[23]

Union MinisterEdit

 
Union Minister for Railways Shri Nitish Kumar entering Parliament to present Interim Railway Budget (2004-05) in New Delhi on 30 January 2004

Nitish was briefly, the Union Minister for Railways and Minister for Surface Transport and later, the Minister for Agriculture in 1998–99, in the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In August 1999, he resigned following the Gaisal train disaster, for which he took responsibility as a minister.[24] However, in his short stint as Railway Minister, he brought in widespread reforms, such as internet ticket booking facility in 2002,[25][26] opening a record number of railway ticket booking counters and introducing the tatkal scheme for instant booking.[citation needed]

Later that year, he rejoined the Union Cabinet as Minister for Agriculture. From 2001 to May 2004, he was – again – the Union Minister for Railways.[citation needed] In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, he contested elections from two places, when he was elected from Nalanda but lost from his traditional constituency, Barh.[27]

Chief Minister of BiharEdit

Kumar is a member of the Janata Dal (United) political party. As the chief minister, he appointed more than 100,000 school teachers, ensured that doctors worked in primary health centres, electrified many villages,[28] paved roads, cut female illiteracy by half, turned around a lawless state by cracking down on criminals and doubled the income of the average Bihari.[29]

 
Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav discussing with the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh about the relief operations on flood-affected areas, in Bihar, 28 August 2008.

First term (2000–2000)Edit

In March 2000, Nitish was elected Chief Minister of Bihar for the first time at the behest of the Vajpayee Government in the centre.[30] NDA and allies had 151 MLAs whereas Lalu Prasad Yadav had 159 MLAs in the 324 member house. Both alliances were less than the majority mark that is 163. Nitish resigned before he could prove his numbers in the house.[31][32] He lasted 7 days in the post.[33]

Second term (2005–2010)Edit

After victory in 2005 Bihar Assembly elections, Kumar a leader of OBC Kurmi caste was sworn in as the chief minister. During Lalu's time, backward caste candidates came to dominate the Bihar assembly claiming half of the seats in it and it was the aspiration of this powerful social community that led to friction among the united backwards, leading to the rise of Kumar who made both social justice and development as his political theme.[23]

Third term (2010–2014)Edit

Kumar's government also initiated bicycle and meal programs. Giving bicycles to girls who stayed in school resulted in the state getting a huge number of girls into schools and a reduction in school dropout rates.[34]

In 2010, Kumar's party swept back to power along with its then allies, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and he again became Chief Minister.[17] The alliance won 206 seats, while the RJD won 22.[35] For the first time, electorates witnessed high turnout of women and young voters, while this was declared as the fairest election in Bihar, with no bloodshed or poll violence.[36]

ResignationEdit

On 17 May 2014, Kumar submitted his resignation to the Governor of Bihar, a day after his party fared poorly in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, winning just 2 seats against 20 seats in the previous election.[17] Kumar resigned, taking the moral responsibility of his party's poor performance in the election, and Jitan Ram Manjhi took over.[37]

Fourth term (2015 - 2020)Edit

Kumar again became Chief Minister on 22 February 2015, on the backdrop of upcoming 2015 Bihar Legislative Assembly election, considered to be his toughest election to date.[38][39] His JD(U), along with RJD and Congress, formed the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) to counter the BJP in Bihar.[40]

Kumar campaigned aggressively during the elections for the Grand Alliance, countering the allegations raised by Narendra Modi and the BJP.[41] The Grand Alliance won the Assembly election by a margin of 178 over the BJP and its allies, with RJD emerging as the largest party with 80 seats and JD(U) placed second with 71.[42][43] Kumar was sworn in as Chief Minister on 20 November 2015 for a record fifth time and Tejashwi Yadav became Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar.[17]

Kumar's campaign was managed by the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) who were hired to managed the campaign for JD(U).[44] I-PAC designed the campaign strategy which included reaching out to a larger set of voters through innovative campaigns, including sending hundreds of branded cycles for outreach,[45] Har Ghar Dastak (door-to-door outreach)[46] and the DNA campaign.[47]

Mahagathbandhan breakupEdit

When corruption charges were levelled against Tejashwi Yadav, the Deputy Chief Minister, Kumar asked for him to resign from the cabinet. The Rashtriya Janata Dal refused to do so, and therefore Kumar resigned on 26 July 2017, thus ending the Grand Alliance.[17] He joined the principal opposition, the NDA, and came back to power within a few hours.[48]

Fifth term (2020–2022)Edit

Capitalising on his 15 years consecutive terms as Chief Minister, Kumar highlighted various achievements and developments and listed various schemes carried out by his government and finally managed to get over a tightly contested election. NDA managed to get majority in Legislature Assembly by winning 125 seats as compared to Mahagathbandhan's 110 seats.[49] He was sworn in as Bihar Chief Minister for seventh time in 20 years in the presence of top leaders of NDA.[50]

On 9 August 2022, Kumar resigned as chief minister and removed his party from the NDA, announcing that his party had rejoined the Mahagathbandhan, and would form a governing coalition with the RJD and INC.[51]

Sixth Term (2022 - present)Edit

On 9 August 2022, Kumar broke the alliance with the BJP and resigned as chief minister and revoked his party from the NDA, announcing that his party had rejoined the Mahagathbandhan, comprising RJD, INC, CPI and other independents, and would form a governing coalition. On 10 August he sworn in as the chief minister of the state for the eighth time in 22 years.[52]

BiographiesEdit

 
Nitish Kumar with Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar and Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav.
  • Sankarshan Thakur authored Single Man: The Life and Times of Nitish Kumar of Bihar.[53]
  • Arun Sinha has authored a book titled Nitish Kumar and The Rise of Bihar.[54]

Awards and recognitionEdit

  • Anuvrat Puraskar, by Shwetambar Terapanthi Mahasabha (Jain organisation), for enforcing total prohibition on liquor in Bihar, 2017
  • JP Memorial Award, Nagpur's Manav Mandir, 2013[55]
  • Ranked 77th in Foreign Policy Magazine' top 100 global thinkers 2012[56]
  • XLRI, Jamshedpur Sir Jehangir Ghandy Medal for Industrial & Social Peace 2011[57]
  • "MSN Indian of the Year 2010"[58]
  • NDTV Indian of the Year – Politics, 2010[59]
  • Forbes' "India's Person of the Year", 2010[60]
  • CNN-IBN "Indian of the Year Award" – Politics, 2010[61]
  • NDTV Indian of the Year – Politics, 2009[62]
  • Economics Times "Business Reformer of the Year 2009"[63]
  • Polio Eradication Championship Award 2009, by Rotary International[64]
  • CNN-IBN Great Indian of the Year – Politics, 2008[65]
  • The Best Chief Minister,[66] according to the CNN-IBN and Hindustan Times State of the Nation Poll 2007

Positions heldEdit

Period Positions Note
1977 Contested first assembly elections on a Janata Party ticket from Harnaut but lost
1980 Contested from Harnaut again, this time on Janata Party (Secular) ticket. But he lost again.[67]
1985–89 Member, Bihar Legislative Assembly, from Harnaut First term in Legislative Assembly
1986–87 Member, Committee on Petitions, Bihar Legislative Assembly
1987–88 President, Yuva Lok Dal, Bihar
1987–89 Member, Committee on Public Undertakings, Bihar Legislative Assembly.
1989 Secretary-General, Janata Dal, Bihar
1989 Elected to 9th Lok Sabha from Barh First term in Lok Sabha
1989 - 16 July 1990 Member, House Committee Resigned
April 1990–November 1990 Union Minister of State, Agriculture and Co-operation
1991 Re-elected to 10th Lok Sabha 2nd term in Lok Sabha
1991–93 General-Secretary, Janata Dal.
Deputy Leader of Janata Dal in Parliament
17 December 1991 – 10 May 1996 Member, Railway Convention Committee
8 April 1993 – 10 May 1996 Chairman, Committee on Agriculture
1996 Re-elected to 11th Lok Sabha.
Member, Committee on Estimates.
Member, General Purposes Committee.
Member, Joint Committee on the Constitution (Eighty-first Amendment Bill, 1996)
Third term in Lok Sabha
1996–98 Member, Committee on Defence
1998 Re-elected to 12th Lok Sabha 4th term in Lok Sabha
19 March 1998 – 5 August 1999 Union Cabinet Minister, Railways
14 April 1998 – 5 August 1999 Union Cabinet Minister, Surface Transport (additional charge)
1999 Re-elected to 13th Lok Sabha 5th term in Lok Sabha
13 October 1999 – 22 November 1999 Union Cabinet Minister, Surface Transport
22 November 1999 – 3 March 2000 Union Cabinet Minister, Agriculture
3 March 2000 – 10 March 2000 Chief Minister, Bihar as 29th Chief Minister of Bihar, only for 7 days
27 May 2000 – 20 March 2001 Union Cabinet Minister, Agriculture
20 March 2001 – 21 July 2001 Union Cabinet Minister, Agriculture, with an additional charge of Railways
22 July 2001 – 21 May 2004 Union Cabinet Minister, Railways
2004 Re-elected to 14th Lok Sabha, from Nalanda.
Member, Committee on Coal & Steel.
Member, General Purposes Committee.
Member, Committee of Privileges.
Leader Janata Dal (U) Parliamentary Party, Lok Sabha
6th term in Lok Sabha
24 November 2005 – 24 November 2010 Chief Minister, Bihar as 31st Chief Minister of Bihar
2006 Elected to Bihar Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council)
26 November 2010 – 17 May 2014 Chief Minister, Bihar as 32nd Chief Minister of Bihar
22 February 2015 – 19 November 2015 Chief Minister, Bihar as 34th Chief Minister of Bihar
20 November 2015 – 26 July 2017 Chief Minister, Bihar as 35th Chief Minister of Bihar
27 July 2017 - November 2020 Chief Minister, Bihar as 36th Chief Minister of Bihar
2018 Elected to Bihar Vidhan Parishad, third term
November 2020 - August 2022 Chief Minister, Bihar as 37th Chief Minister of Bihar

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by Chief Minister of Bihar
3 March 2000 – 10 March 2000
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Minister of Bihar
24 November 2005 – 17 May 2014
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Minister of Bihar
22 February 2015 –
Succeeded by
incumbent