Nitish Kumar (born 1 March 1951) is an Indian politician who is the Chief Minister of Bihar, a state in eastern India, since 2017. Previously he served as the Chief Minister of Bihar from 2005 to 2014 and from 2015 to 2017; he also served as a minister in the Union Government of India.
Kumar belongs to the Janata Dal (United) political party. He endeared himself to Biharis, used to low expectations from previous regimes, when as Chief Minister, his socialist policies bore dividends in appointing more than 100,000 school teachers, ensuring that doctors worked in primary health centers, electrification of villages, paving of roads, cutting female illiteracy by half, turning around a lawless state by cracking down on criminals and doubling the income of the average Bihari.
On 17 May 2014, Kumar resigned, taking responsibility for his party's poor performance in the 2014 general elections, and was succeeded by Jitan Ram Manjhi. However, he returned to office in February 2015 following a political crisis in Bihar and won the state elections of November 2015. He was elected as the national president of his party on 10 April 2016. He resigned again on 26 July 2017 as Chief Minister of Bihar due to differences with the coalition partner, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), following the naming of Tejashwi Yadav, the Deputy Chief Minister and RJD member, in a corruption-based First Information Report by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Hours later, he joined the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition, which had thus far been the opposition, and secured a majority in the assembly. He became Chief Minister again on the following day.
Nitish Kumar was born in Bihar on 1 March 1951. His father, Ram Lakhan Singh, was a freedom fighter and ayurvedic practitioner; his mother was Parmeshwari Devi.
He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Bihar College of Engineering (now NIT Patna) in 1972. He joined the Bihar State Electricity Board, half-heartedly, and later moved into politics.
Nitish Kumar belongs to a socialist class of politicians. During his early years as a politician he was associated with the likes of Jayaprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, S. N. Sinha, Karpuri Thakur and V. P. Singh. Kumar participated in Jayaprakash Narayan's movement between 1974 and 1977.
Kumar 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 minister. However, in his short stint as Railway Minister, he brought in widespread reforms, such as internet ticket booking facility in 2002, opening a record number of railway ticket booking counters and introducing the tatkal scheme for instant booking.
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. 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.
Chief Minister of Bihar
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.
In 2010, Kumar's party swept back to power along with its then allies, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and he again became Chief Minister. The alliance won 206 seats, while the RJD won 22. 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.
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. Kumar resigned, taking the moral responsibility of his party's poor performance in the election, and Jitan Ram Manjhi took over.
2015 Bihar elections
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. His JD(U), along with RJD and Congress, formed the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) to counter the BJP in Bihar.
Kumar campaigned aggressively during the elections for the Grand Alliance, countering the allegations raised by Narendra Modi and the BJP. 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. 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.
Kumar's campaign was supported by the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC). 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, Har Ghar Dastak (door-to-door outreach) and the DNA campaign.
When corruption charges were levelled against Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy Chief Minister, Kumar asked for him to resign from the cabinet. The RJD refused to countenance this and so, in order to protect his clean image and zero tolerance towards corruption, Kumar resigned on 26 July 2017, thus ending the Grand Alliance. He joined the principle opposition, the NDA, and came back to power within a few hours.
On 22 February 1973, Nitish Kumar married Manju Kumari Sinha, a teacher by profession. They have a son, Nishant (born 20 July 1975), who is a graduate in engineering from BIT-Mesra. Manju Sinha died in 2007 at the age of 53.
Nitish's nickname is Munna.
- Sankarshan Thakur authored a book based on his life titled Single Man: The Life and Times of Nitish Kumar of Bihar.
- Arun Sinha has authored a book titled Nitish Kumar and The Rise of Bihar.
Awards and recognition
- 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
- Ranked 77th in Foreign Policy Magazine' top 100 global thinkers 2012
- XLRI, Jamshedpur Sir Jehangir Ghandy Medal for Industrial & Social Peace 2011
- "MSN Indian of the Year 2010"
- NDTV Indian of the Year – Politics, 2010
- Forbes' "India's Person of the Year", 2010
- CNN-IBN "Indian of the Year Award" – Politics, 2010
- NDTV Indian of the Year – Politics, 2009
- Economics Times "Business Reformer of the Year 2009"
- Polio Eradication Championship Award 2009, by Rotary International
- CNN-IBN Great Indian of the Year – Politics, 2008
- The Best Chief Minister, according to the CNN-IBN and Hindustan Times State of the Nation Poll 2007
|1977||Contested first assembly elections on a Janata Party ticket|
|1985–89||Member, Bihar Legislative Assembly||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.||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 additional charge of Railways|
|22 July 2001 – 21 May 2004||Union Cabinet Minister, Railways|
|2004||Re-elected to 14th Lok Sabha.
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|
|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||Chief Minister, Bihar||as 36th Chief Minister of Bihar|