Battle of nerves begins between BJP and JD (U) afresh, Nitish claims no rift in NDA

Deputy CM and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi too says there is no bickering in NDA over cabinet expansion

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at an Iftar party in Patna on Saturday

By Dheeraj Kumar

Patna: Just three days after the Bharatiya Janata Party offered one seat to his party in union cabinet,which Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar had declined to accept, the latter apparently sought to pay back the BJP in same coin as no BJP leader was inducted in the state cabinet expansion on Sunday.

Many view it as Kumar moving one step forward to express his anguish over BJP`s offer of ‘symbolic representation’ to his party in the union cabinet.

It would be really hazardous to guess at this juncture what Kumar wishes to achieve through his latest move. It could, however, be construed that the JD (U) has once again started finding itself not very comfortable with the BJP particularly after it was offered only one berth in union cabinet by the party`s top leadership.

Kumar, however, tried his level best to set at rest all speculations over differences between the JD (U) and the BJP, affirming that the NDA was fully intact.

After expansion of state cabinet, Kumar told newspersons that he had offered BJP to fill the vacant posts in the cabinet from its quota but BJP decided that party members from its quota would be inducted into the cabinet in future expansion.

“NDA is fully intact and there is no crack whatsoever in relationship between its allies in the state,” he remarked.

Apparently defending timing of cabinet expansion with no induction of any BJP leader, Nitish Kumar said the next session of state legislature is going to commence and problems would have cropped had there not been adequate number of ministers. He said that in the given situation, decision for cabinet expansion was taken.

Deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said that there was no bickering in NDA over cabinet expansion. Chief Minister Kumar had offered his party to fill the vacant posts of ministers from its quota but the party leadership deferred it for the time being, he added.

Chief Minister Kumar had spurned BJP`s offer to his party for joining the union cabinet on ground of getting only ‘symbolic representation’ in Narendra Modi government. It only created speculation over alleged differences between JD (U) and BJP.

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan while talking to newspersons in the state capital affirmed that NDA was intact and would continue to be so in future.

When asked on BJP leader not finding place in the expansion of Nitish cabinet, he said, “Nobody should jump to any conclusion only on the basis of some small issue”.

The Union Minister said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had already clarified that he would remain in NDA and would also work for strengthening it.

“Mr Kumar is an NDA leader and would remain so”, he added.

To another query, Paswan said there is still vacancy in Nitish cabinet.

“It is only a rumour that Nitish Kumar is anguished,” he emphasised.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar`s refusal to BJP`s offer of one berth for JD (U) in union cabinet is arguably guided by his game plan to stop BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi walking away with all the credit for the astonishing success of his party in Lok Sabha election. The JD (U) which had won two seats in 2014 Lok Sabha election without an alliance with the BJP improved its tally to 16 seats this election.

The BJP and the JD (U) contested on equal number of 17 seats this election. BJP won all seats but JD (U) faced defeat in Kishanganj constituency.

Nitish Kumar would definitely not like his party JD (U)`s proverbial big brother role diminishing in Bihar after the ‘exceptionally well’ performance of the BJP in the general elections. Nitish could not simply afford it when Bihar assembly election is due next year and is keen to emerge as single largest party by contesting highest number of seats.

But it all depends how the situation evolves in coming months particularly when political grapevine is agog with speculation that BJP may contest state assembly election without any alliance. It could be dismissed as mere absurd proposition but politics is game of possibilities too.


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