Why Nitish Kumar does not contest Bihar Assembly election

Nitish Kumar, Yogi Adityanath and Uddhav Thackeray, the chief ministers of the three most populous states of India have one thing in common. They all are members of the legislative councils of the respective states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. None of them has contested a Vidhan Sabha election to take oath as the chief minister. Nitish Kumar is the only one of them to have ever contested a Vidhan Sabha election but that too some 35 years ago.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, however, has won five consecutive Lok Sabha elections from Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency winning the seat first time at the age of 26 in 1998. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has never contested a general election. Thackeray is, however, a first-time chief minister and so is Yogi Adityanath.

In contrast, Nitish Kumar is seeking fourth consecutive electoral victory in the upcoming Bihar Assembly election 2020. Strictly speaking, Nitish Kumar has taken oath as the Bihar chief minister five times — in 2000, 2005, 2010 and twice in 2015.

Nitish Kumar last contested a general election to Bihar Assembly in 1985. Nitish Kumar contested Bihar Assembly election for the first time in 1977. He lost from Harnaut. He won an assembly election in Bihar for the first time in 1985 and it was also the last time when he contested the Bihar Assembly election.

Subsequently, Nitish Kumar contested elections to the Lok Sabha. He won the Lok Sabha polls six times. His last Lok Sabha election was in 2004, when he won from Nalanda parliamentary constituency but lost from Barh seat. He resigned after he became the Bihar chief minister in 2005.

He has been the Bihar chief minister since November 2005 except for a brief period of around nine months in 2014-15. Nitish Kumar had resigned as Bihar chief minister following the victory of the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election over political differences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jitan Ram Manjhi was installed as the chief minister in Bihar. But Manjhi got cozy with the BJP leadership and Nitish Kumar returned as chief minister in 2015 ahead of the Bihar Assembly election that year. He won an emphatic mandate for himself in alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad. Nitish Kumar returned to the NDA fold in 2017.

When Nitish Kumar took oath as the Bihar chief minister, he was not a member of either of the houses of Bihar legislature. His term lasted only eight days and he did not require to get elected to the state legislature. Next, he took oath as Bihar chief minister in November 2005. He was not a member of the state legislature. He became a Member of the Legislative Council early next year.

It is required by law for a chief minister or a minister to be a member of state legislature. Bihar is one of the six states – others being Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana – to have a Legislative Council as the Upper House in the state legislature.

Nitish Kumar’s term as an MLC (Member of Legislative Council) expired in 2012. He got reelected to the Upper House. Some people raised question whether he deliberately avoided facing voters in the previous Bihar Assembly election held in 2010.

On his reelection to the Legislative Council in 2012, Nitish Kumar explained why he had chosen the MLC route and not the direct election route.

“I chose to become an MLC by choice and not because of any compulsion as the Upper House is a respectable institution,” Nitish Kumar said while addressing the commemorative meeting of the legislative council to mark its centenary celebrations in January 2012.

“I will once again be elected to the Legislative Council upon completion of the present six-year term,” Nitish Kumar said.

During the campaign for 2015 Bihar Assembly election, Nitish Kumar said he would not contest the state polls as he did not want to limit his focus on one seat.

Nitish Kumar got elected to the Legislative Council in 2018 for the third time in a row. His term ends in 2024. He will be seventy four years down the line and as some political observers say, Nitish Kumar may be planning retirement from active politics.



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