Nitish Kumar explains why his party declined a berth in PM Modi’s team
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who had declined to take the single cabinet berth offered to his party in PM Modi team, on Friday insisted that the decision by the Janata Dal (United) did not reflect fissures in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. But Kumar laid the ground rule for his party joining the government as an alliance partner. The representation of allies in the central government, he said, should be proportional to their strength in parliament.
The BJP, however, Kumar said, had offered one seat as a “symbolic representation” in the coalition government at this stage. “In an alliance, our feeling was that there should be a proportional representation,” the chief minister told reporters at Patna airport on his return from Delhi.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who heads the JD(U) and was present for the oath-taking ceremony on the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan
WATCH | No need for symbolic presence: Nitish after JD(U) opts out of Union Cabinet
The JD(U), which rules Bijhar in alliance with the BJP and won 16 of the 40 seats in the state, wanted a bigger share in the council of ministers and had conveyed its demand to the BJP, which won 17 seats. It was not part of the Modi government in the last tenure and had walked out of the Congress –Rashtriya Janata Dal alliance in Bihar in 2017 to be part of the NDA.
Nitish Kumar denied media reports that his party had haggled for three seats instead of one.
A BJP leader said the JD (U) insistence on proportional representation was about greater numbers. He said the BJP leadership had explained to Nitish Kumar that the ‘symbolic representation’ formula for allies had been worked out to ensure that government formation was not held up for lack of consensus with certain allies.
It had been clearly conveyed to the JD(U) that more ministers would be inducted at a later stage.
Another BJP ally, the Uttar Pradesh-based Apna Dal, was also not given a spot in the council of ministers. Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK, which is part of the NDA, was also missing from PM Modi’s team. But this is being linked to differences within AIADMK on its nominee.
Apna Dal (S) chief Anupriya Patel, who won the Lok Sabha seat from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, was a minister of state for health in the previous government, but was not given a ministerial position this time. She said that the question on her exclusion should be directed at the Prime Minister.
Apna Dal (S), which has a clout among a section of the other backward classes (OBC), won two seats in UP in alliance with the BJP. The saffron party won 62 seats in the state, trouncing the opposition alliance.