PATNA: It is almost certain that Bihar’s ruling JD-U will join the Union cabinet when Prime Minister Modi expands his ministry likely Thursday. Speculation is rife in political circles on how many JD-U MPSs would be accommodated. Sources said the party had demanded five berths three of cabinet rank and two in the minister of state rank.
“But the two sides could not work it out. The PM and other senior BJP leaders are learnt to have agreed in principle on giving the cabinet rank to two JD-U members and one the rank of a state minister,” an NDA source in Patna said.
The JD-U, a part of the ruling NDA in Bihar aliong with the BJP, wants to go by ‘proportional representation’ with due weightage being given to the seats it won in the 2020 assembly polls as well as its strength in the Lok Sabha.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar confirmed JD-U’s claims. “There is no problem in being a part of the Union cabinet. But who will be the minister (s) will be decided by the Prime Minister. The JD-U’s representation will be decided by RCP Singh, the new national president of the party.” The chief minister denied having any “formula” for the JD-U representation. “Modi ji is the Prime Minister and he has the right to make anybody a minister,” he said.
When Modi formed his first cabinet team in his second term in 2019, the JD-U failed to get any berth, upsetting Nitish who had then said that his party would not join the Union cabinet without getting ‘proportional representation’.
Sources said minor differences were being sorted out on the demands of ministries sought by the ruling JD-U. The party has reportedly been demanding Railways and Industry portfolios, in particular. All JD-U MPs reached New Delhi on Tuesday as the Union cabinet expansion speculation went around.
LJP rebel MP from Hajipur, Pashupati Kumar Paras, the estranged uncle of Chirag Paswan, is also likely to be inducted as a minister of state. He has also reached Delhi after getting a call on Monday from Home Minister Amit Shah. The JD-U has 16 Lok Sabha MPs from Bihar while the BJP has 17 and the LJP 6.
‘Uncle can’t be a minister from LJP’
Amid buzz of his uncle Pashupati Paras getting a berth in the Union cabinet, Chirag Paswan on Tuesday urged the PM that nobody from the breakaway faction should be taken from the LJP quota, otherwise they would go to court. He said Paras can be made a minister as an Independent, but not as a member of the LJP.