NDA ties may be on the mend as BJP allies find space in new Cabinet

Also sworn in as Cabinet minister was the LJP’s Pashupati Kumar Paras who is entangled in a feud with his nephew and Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan for control of the party.
Lok Janshakti Party supporters celebrate the inclusion of party president Pashupati Kumar Paras in the new Union Cabinet, in Patna, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (PTI)
Lok Janshakti Party supporters celebrate the inclusion of party president Pashupati Kumar Paras in the new Union Cabinet, in Patna, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (PTI)
Published on Jul 08, 2021 02:00 AM IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party has signalled that its ties with its partners in the National Democratic Alliance are on the mend by including three leaders (one each) from the Janata Dal (U), Apna Dal, and the Lok Janshakti Party in the Union council of ministers that was sworn in on Wednesday. Of these, two were sworn in as Cabinet ministers.

This is the first time that the council will have representation from the JDU, an ally with whom the BJP runs a coalition government in Bihar. There was speculation that there were differences between the two allies over the number of ministerial berths, but as things stood, RCP Singh of the party was sworn in as Cabinet minister.

Also sworn in as Cabinet minister was the LJP’s Pashupati Kumar Paras who is entangled in a feud with his nephew and Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan for control of the party. Paswan has already approached the Delhi high court saying Paras cannot be sworn in as a member of the LJP because he (Paswan) represents the party

Still, Paras’ inclusion has cleared the air on LJP-BJP ties, which came under a cloud ahead of the Bihar election after Paswan attacked JDU leader and chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Anupriya Patel, a Kurmi leader of the Apna Dal, which is a crucial ally of the BJP in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, was also sworn in. She was the minister of state for health and family welfare in the council of ministers in 2014 when the BJP first came to power at the centre in 2014. Patel’s entry is seen as an outreach to other backward classes in Uttar Pradesh which goes to the polls next year.

After the exit of two of its oldest allies, the Shiv Sena in 2019 over the issue of power sharing in Maharashtra and the Shiromani Akali Dal in 2020 following a fall-out over the farm laws, the BJP was accused of not taking on board views from the partners.

The absence of allies from the council of ministers cemented the perception that there were fissures within the National Democratic Alliance. After the passing of LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan in 2020 the Union cabinet had no representation from the allies, the only non BJP member in the council of ministers was RPI’s Ramdas Athawale.

Political commentator Abhay Deshpande said the BJP is making an effort to strengthen ties with its allies because they will need partners for the 2024 general elections.

“Right now they have the mandate but after 10 years, there will be a number of issues that the BJP will have to face such as anti-incumbency, the impact of Covid on economy and in such a scenario, they will need the allies,” he said.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021