Nitish Kumar (born 1 March 1951) is an Indian politician, who is serving as 22nd Chief Minister of Bihar, a state in India, since 2015 and has served in that role on five previous occasions. He has also served as a minister in the Union Government of India.
Kumar is a member of the Janata Dal (United) political party. Kumar’s government was hailed by the state as a pleasant change from a long spell of rampant corruption, crimes and misgovernance. As the Chief Minister, he appointed more than 100,000 school teachers, ensured that doctors worked in primary health centres, electrified many villages, 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.
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 First Information Report alleging corruption filed 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. The Bihar government under Kumar banned alcohol in the state in April 2016.
Nitish 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. Nitish belongs to Kurmi agricultural caste.
He has 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. He married Manju Kumari Sinha (1955-2007) on 22 February 1973 and the couple has one son. Manju Sinha died in New Delhi on 14 May 2007 due to pneumonia.
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 and joined the Janata party headed by Satyendra Narain Sinha.
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 a 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
In March 2000, Nitish was elected Chief Minister of Bihar for the first time at the behest of the Vajpayee Government in the center. NDA and allies had 151 MLA whereas Lalu Prasad Yadav had 159 MLA in 324 member house. Both alliances were less than the majority mark that is 163. Nithish resigned before he could prove his numbers in the house.
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.
- Sankarshan Thakurauthored 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-IBNGreat 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 from Harnaut but lost|
|1980||Contested from Harnaut again, this time on Janata Party (Secular) ticket. But he lost again.|
|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 –||Chief Minister, Bihar||as 36th Chief Minister of Bihar|
|2018||Elected to Bihar Vidhan Parishad, third term|