PATNA: Carrots dangled before the JD(U) ahead of their joining hands with the BJP in the state are, as expected, likely to fall into the hands of the Nitish-Kumar led party. Two aides of the Bihar Chief Minister are likely to get Cabinet berths in the Union government.
Bihar’s ruling JD(U) had formally joined the NDA last month after forming a new government in the state with the BJP in July after withdrawing from mahagathbandhan with the RJD and Congress.
RCP Singh and Santosh Kushwaha, two MPs considered close to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, are likely to be included in the central cabinet, party sources said on Friday. Although JD(U) is yet to make a formal announcement, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also the party’s national president and decision maker, is said to have put his seal of approval on the two names.
While RCP Singh is a member of Rajya Sabha, Kushwaha is the MP representing Purnea Lok Sabha constituency. It’s most likely a cabinet post for Singh and minister of state for Kushwaha, said sources.
Being close to the Chief Minister sure seems to have helped their elevation, but in a country’s politics where caste still plays a central role, Singh and Kushwaha’s caste affiliations also reportedly worked in their favour.
It’s the embattled Railways that Nitish Kumar is eyeing for Singh, despite the many recent accidents due to which Rail minister Suresh Prabhu is likely to be shifted to another ministry. Nitish himself has held the railway portfolio in the past.
If not the Railways, Singh could get the agriculture portfolio, said some JD(U) sources.
Singh, a 1982-batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, not only hails from Nitish Kumar’s home district of Nalanda, he also belongs to the same caste of Kurmis, a numerically small OBC group. A leading voice in Kumar’s coterie of advisors, Singh was Kumar’s private secretary when the latter was railway minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
Kumar made Singh his principal secretary after becoming Bihar Chief Minister in 2005. Many of Kumar’s successful political and administrative strategies were planned by Singh, who took voluntary retirement in 2010 to be nominated by Kumar to the Rajya Sabha. After Sharad Yadav rebelled, Singh was named JD(U)’s new leader in the Upper House in his place.
Kushwaha belongs to the Koeri caste, another small OBC community, and was a BJP legislator till the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when he joined JD(U) and got elected from Purnea Lok Sabha constituency. Choosing for a position in the central government is said to be Nitish Kumar’s strategy to counterbalance the effect of his bitter rival Upendra Kushwaha, chief of RLSP and currently Union Minister of State for Education.
The names of three other leaders – JD(U) state chief Bashistha Narayan Singh, Ramnath Thakur and Kahkashan Parveen – are also doing the rounds for the two berths in the central cabinet that the JD(U) is to get, said sources.
JD(U) has two MPs in Lok Sabha. Following the rebellion by veteran leader Sharad Yadav, the faction led by Nitish Kumar is left with seven of its total ten MPs in the Rajya Sabha.