Nitish's decision not to induct any leader from BJP and LJP in the Council of Ministers comes just a few days after 57 NDA leaders minus JD(U) were sworn-in as ministers in the new Modi government at the Centre.
Hours after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expanded his Cabinet on Sunday, leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (United) skipped each other’s Iftar party hosted in Patna, triggering speculations that all is not well with the ruling NDA in the state. While no BJP leader attended the JD(U)’s Iftar organised at the Haj Bhavan, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag did mark their presence. RJD ally and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi also participated in the Iftar. On the other hand, the BJP’s Iftar was organised by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi where no one from the JD(U) was present.
The mood in the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar is sombre despite the stellar performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata Dal (United) and the Lok Janshakti Party combine in the state, with the alliance winning 39 of the 40 seats in the state. The solitary loss went in the JD(U)’s account in Kishenganj where a victory for the NDA always looked improbable.
The Iftar was organised on a day when Nitish Kumar expanded his Council of Ministers. A total of eight new leaders were administered the oath of office and secrecy with no representation from the BJP and LJP. The leaders who took oath are – Ashok Chaudhary, Shyam Rajak, Laxmeshwar Prasad, Bhima Bharati, Ram Sevak Singh, Sanjay Jha, Neeraj Kumar and Narendra Narayan Yadav.
Nitish’s decision not to induct any leader from BJP and LJP in the Council of Ministers comes just a few days after 57 NDA leaders minus JD(U) were sworn-in as ministers in the new Modi government at the Centre. Nitish ruled out joining the Modi government after he was offered one berth by the BJP. The JD(U) president said that his party is against any “symbolic” representation and will not accept the offer for one berth. He, however, said that the JD(U) stands strongly with the central govenrment and the NDA and there is no confusion.
“The BJP wanted only one person from JD(U) in the Cabinet. So, it would have been just symbolic participation. We informed them that we do not need it,” he had said.
When JD(U) leader Shyam Rajak of JD(U) was asked why no representation was given to the BJP and LJP in the Cabinet expansion in Bihar, he downplayed reports of a rift between BJP and JD(U), saying, “National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is intact. People are merely spreading rumours.” Another JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar echoed similar sentiment. “JD(U) will never leave NDA,” he said.
In the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections, while BJP and LJP scored 100% in the state, winning all the 17 and six seats they have contested, respectively, the JD(U) won 16 out of 17 seats it had contested. The state will go to polls in October-November 2020.