'Had sought four Union Cabinet berths in 2019, BJP did not agree': Nitish lashes out at saffron party

He also asserted that the induction of his former close aide RCP Singh last year did not have his consent.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar interacts with the media, in Patna, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (Photo | PTI)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar interacts with the media, in Patna, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (Photo | PTI)

PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday revealed that he had sought "four ministerial berths" at the Centre after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, citing his JD(U)'s numerical strength, but the demand was turned down by the BJP, his now-abandoned ally.

Kumar, who broke his silence on the episode after three years, also rubbished claims by BJP leaders like his former deputy Sushil Kumar Modi that his consent was obtained before inducting into the Union cabinet last year the then JD(U) national president RCP Singh.

"I had sought four seats after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It was my contention that they (BJP) had 17 seats in Bihar while we had got 16. They were inducting five ministers from the state. Any other formula would have sent a bad signal across the state. You all may recall the turn of events thereafter," he told reporters here.

Kumar, who was then the party's national president, had gone to New Delhi after the Lok Sabha polls, with top JD(U) leaders saying that the party, which had returned to NDA only a couple of years earlier, was all set to join the new government at the Centre.

However, Kumar subsequently announced that his party will not join the new cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and returned after the swearing-in.

The 71-year-old leader had not spoken about the turn of events back then though speculations were rife that he had felt slighted over the offer of a "token representation" of just one cabinet berth each to all allies by the BJP, which was then gloating over having secured a brute majority on its own.

Kumar was also asked pointedly about the claims by BJP leaders that he was making a fuss over the induction of RCP Singh last year, and that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had himself spoken to him over the telephone to seek consent.

"Why would I have given my consent ('ham kahela karne jaenge')", the CM said using a Bihari colloquialism and confirmed that his displeasure on this account had later caused Singh to resign as JD(U)'s national president.

"So much did I do for this man, right from the days he was an IAS officer. I even relinquished the top party post to give him a push. And what did he do? Party workers have been telling me how haughty he was towards them after becoming a minister," said Kumar, the de facto leader of the JD(U).

Singh is now complaining of having been deprived of the government bungalow he was staying in.

Does he not remember it was allotted to a party MLC who accommodated him "upon my instructions?" the chief minister said.

As an MP, he was never entitled to have such a house, Kumar said.

"He told me he was becoming a minister, I asked him to have it his way and made him step down as the national president within six months," said Kumar about his former aide, who was first denied another Rajya Sabha term by the JD(U), causing him to resign as minister, and later served a notice on allegations of corruption levelled by party workers, which led him to quit.

About Sushil Kumar Modi, the JD(U) leader said: "I would be happy if he gets some reward from his party for speaking against me. I was upset when his party decided to drop him. I was later hopeful that he would land a berth in the Union cabinet but that, too, did not happen".

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