Nitish Kumar turns down Cabinet berth offer, says JD(U) not interested in symbolic 'presence'
According to party sources, the JD(U) had demanded three berths for Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh, Purnia MP Santosh Kushwaha and RCP Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP and a close political aide of Nitish Kumar.
PATNA: The Narendra Modi-led government’s second innings at the Centre may have begun on a sour note, with alliance partner Janata Dal (United) deciding not to be part of the Narendra Modi Cabinet. Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) was offered one ministerial berth but the party turned it down saying it is not interested in having a ‘symbolic presence’ in the new government. Announcing the party’s decision a few hours before the swearing-in ceremony, party leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said, “It is not necessary to be in the Cabinet. The JD(U) will continue to be in the NDA and the alliance is united.”
According to party sources, the JD(U) had demanded three berths for Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh, Purnia MP Santosh Kushwaha and RCP Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP and a close political aide of Nitish Kumar. However, the PMO invited only RCP Singh though party sources claim the BJP had in principle agreed to the demand for three berths.
“Calls were expected till the last moment for Singh and Kushwaha, which didn’t happen. Finally, RCP Singh, who had left for the PM’s residence, was called back,” a source said. Meanwhile, JD(U) leader K C Tyagi told a TV channel that the developments might adversely impact the next Assembly elections in the state. “Nitish Kumar has a strong face value in Bihar politics. His unhappiness should not be taken lightly. On many occasions in the recent past, Nitish has expressed his displeasure over controversial issues including Article 370. It shows all is not well in the NDA camp,” said a Patna-based political analyst.
Third largest partner
The JD(U) is the third major partner in the NDA after the BJP and the Shiv Sena, having won 16 of the 17 LS seats it contested in Bihar. The JD(U) was not a part of the first Modi government as well. It had allied with the saffron party in 2017 but had not joined the government. The Shiv Sena, which has 18 MPs, has also got only one berth — Arvind Sawant.