By Pradeep Kaushal
Faced with the challenging task of satisfying all caste groups while nominating only one person from the party for a ministerial berth, the Janata Dal (United) has decided not to join the new Modi government. At least, for now.
“We are not joining the government. This is our decision,” JD (U) general secretary Pavan Varma announced in New Delhi Thursday evening.
The JD (U) decision came after it failed to resolve internal differences on the issue of nominating one person for a ministerial post. The BJP leadership had asked the JD (U) to suggest the name of its representative for induction into the new council of ministers.
Moreover, assembly polls are due in Bihar next year.
Sources told The Indian Express that JD (U) president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was inclined to name his confidant Ram Chandra Prasad Singh, leader of the party in Rajya Sabha, for a Cabinet rank.
At the same time, he was keen on a Minister of State berth for Santosh Kushwaha, elected to Lok Sabha from Purnea.
A former IAS officer, Singh is a Kurmi, the community to which Nitish belongs. Sources said it is possible the JD (U) chief did not wish to be seen favouring a man from his own caste, overlooking the claims of others — 16 people have been elected to Lok Sabha on JD(U) tickets.
BJP president Amit Shah had asked all important allies, irrespective of their strength in Parliament, to forward the name of one person each for inclusion in the Council of Ministers. The Shiv Sena has 18 members, two more than the JD(U), in Lok Sabha. The LJP of Ram Vilas Paswan has six and the SAD two. However, the representation for all is the same — one member each. A higher quota for JD(U) would have led to a corresponding increase in the share of at least the Sena.
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Paswan, who has the distinction of being in both the NDA Nitish’s JD (U) decides not to join Govt, for now and the UPA, stays in the government. His LJP group in Lok Sabha includes his two brothers and son Chirag Paswan.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Akali Dal, who was Minister for Food Processing in the previous government, remains in the new order as well. She and her husband, Sukhbir Singh Badal, are two SAD members of the Lower House.
Arvind Sawant will represent the Shiv Sena. He defeated Milind Deora of the Congress from South Mumbai. Anant Geete, who was the Sena candidate in the last government, was defeated in the Lok Sabha elections this time.