PATNA: In a last desperate attempt to influence the voters in the assembly elections, the 69 year old engineer-turned-politician chief minister and JDU national president, Nitish Kumar on Thursday evening announced his retirement from politics. His rival in Bihar politics, Tejashwi Yadav welcomed the announcement and said "Nitish Kumar is worn out".
Nitish Kumar who is chief minister of Bihar since February 2005 made the emotional appeal to the voters to elect JDU candidates with Teer (arrows) symbol victorious. He said, "This is the last day of election campaign, this is the last meeting. This is my last election. Everything is well, if it ends well."
Chief Minister's office in a release said, "Chief Minister announced that Bihar assembly elections 2020 is going to be the last election of his political career."
Nitish's last election meeting of the current assembly election campaign was at Dhamdaha in Purnia district bordering Bangladesh. He sought votes for his ministerial colleague Ms Lacy Singh. He addressed five meetings, all in Seemanchal region of the state.
Showing his attachment to the Seemanchal region having majority Muslim population, Nitish Kumar said during last 15 years he got the region developed and promoted educational facilities in the areas having sizable Muslim population.
He thanked the people of Bihar for giving him opportunities to work so far and hoped every one will remain united.
Nitish Kumar did his B Engineering from Patna Engineering College. He had unsuccessfully contested assembly elections in 1977 and 1980. He was elected first in 1985 to Bihar assembly and in 1989 to Lok Sabha to become union minister for agriculture. He was Railway minister too.
His announcement was greeted with mixed reactions. Prem Ranjan Patel, BJP spokesman said, "Nitish Kumar was feeling disturbed over protests in his election meetings. He is sensitive. People of Bihar will not allow Nitish Kumar to leave state leadership, He is the Vikash Purush and his presence is essential for growth of the state. There is no alternative to Nitish Kumar".
However, his party leader union minister Giriraj Singh welcomed the decision of Nitish Kumar praised his leadership qualities. "He created records in all fields, either as CM or union minister. Making the announcement of retirement during the elections is a great sacrifice," said Giriraj Singh.
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala, said: Nitish Kumar has realised JDU-BJP alliance is losing the elections. He conceded defeat. He should apologise to the people of Bihar and go on graceful retirement ."
Grand Alliance chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav commented, "I proved right. He was not able to handle Bihar. He was tired and took retirement. We have been saying this for long that Nitish Kumar ji has worn out and he is not able to manage Bihar. Now, on the last day of campaign, he has announced his retirement from politics. He understood the ground realties".
Shivananad Tiwari, RJD vice-president said: "Nitish Kumar will not be firm on his announcement. He used this last emotional weapon before the electorate who have turned hostile to him. It is his stunt."
LJP president Chirag Paswan commented, "Nitish Kumar announced his retirement without submitting the report card of last five years. Saheb, ab hum kisse Hisab Mangenge). Chirag said the JDU leaders will now become unemployed as Nitish Kumar left them in the lurch. JDU will be finished. Surprised he announced his retirement on last meeting of last day of campaign". He had called Nitish as the most corrupt chief minister.
There is no word from the JDU leaders to persuade him to withdraw his retirement. BJP leaders, however, said Nitish Kumar was indispensable for the BJP. They said the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi during his election meetings had described Nitish Kumar as indispensable and called him his best friend. Without him, development cannot take place, PM had also said.
According to the JDU leaders closed to the chief minister, Nitish Kumar was quite upset over series of attacks and abuses on him in the election meetings. He had told his trusted colleagues, "People are throwing onions and potatoes, calling me Thief". This hurt him and his decision to announce retirement was taken after, lot of deliberations as he did not want to disturb the campaign and demoralise his candidates mid-way through the campaign.