In tit for tat, CM inducts 8 JD(U) Mins, offers 1 berth to BJP, but latter opts out
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday gave it back to the BJP for offering his party a “symbolic” representation of just one seat in the Union Cabinet. In a Cabinet expansion, Nitish inducted eight Minister of the JD(U) but presented a lone berth to the BJP.
Nitish said the BJP was offered a berth in his Cabinet, but the saffron party was not too keen. Seconding Nitish, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP’s senior leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the party was offered a ministerial berth, but it opted out of it for now.
“Nitish has offered BJP to fill the vacant ministerial seat. The BJP decided to fill it in future,” the Deputy Chief Minister tweeted.
Despite attempts by top leadership of both JD(U) and BJP to play down the differences that surfaced in their relationship after Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not concede Kumar’s demand for “proportional representation” in the Union Cabinet, the tie between JD(U) and BJP has come under severe strain during the last few days.
Already there is speculation that in the run up to the next year’s Assembly polls, Nitish would be exploring other options than continuing his alliance with the BJP. Within JD(U) there is a feeling that the BJP might try to capture power in Bihar if it emerged the single largest party in the State.
“If we contest together and the BJP won more seats than JD(U), then they may try to replace Nitish Kumar even though they would have all the seats by contesting the poll on his name,” said a senior JD(U) leader.
The new Ministers — Narendra Narayan Yadav, Shyam Rajak, Ashok Choudhary, Bima Bharti, Sanjay Jha, Ram Sewak Singh, Niraj Kumar and Lakshmeshwar Rai — were administered the oath of office and secrecy at a function at the Raj Bhavan here by Governor Lalji Tandon.
Nitish said the vacancies were majorly created by JD(U) Ministers, who resigned from their posts for various reasons.
Three seats in the Nitish Cabinet fell vacant following the election of JD(U) Ministers to the Lok Sabha. The three Ministers who were elected to the Lok Sabha are: Water Resources Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, Disaster Management Minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav and LJP’s Bihar unit chief and Animal and Fisheries Resources Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras.
One post fell vacant last year after Manju Verma resigned as Social Welfare Minister in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home case.
Among those who attended Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony were Sushil Kumar Modi, Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary, RJD Bihar unit president Ram Chandra Purbey and several Ministers of the Nitish Kumar Government.
This is the second time in two years when Nitish Kumar expanded his Cabinet. On July 29, 2017, he had inducted 27 Ministers from all three NDA constituents, JD(U), BJP and LJP.
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