Zoom News : Jun 13, 2021, 12:36 PM
Patna: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), the second largest constituent of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government at the Centre, on Saturday said alliance partners should have a “respectable” share in the Union council of ministers.JD(U) national president RCP Singh, a protege whom Kumar handpicked last year to head the party, said he was aware of a possible expansion of the Union cabinet. “JD(U) is a constituent of the NDA and should get preference in representation in cabinet expansion. Allies should get due respect in a coalition,” he told reporters in Patna.At present, JD(U) has no representation in the Union cabinet. In the 2019 parliamentary polls, National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners won 39 out of the total 40 seats in Bihar. JD(U) won 16 seats, while ally BJP won 17 seats. Six seats went to another NDA partner, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) while Congress managed to win only one seat in Bihar.Kumar’s party, however, did not join the Union cabinet, apparently unhappy over being offered just a “token representation”.Currently, there are five central ministers from Bihar, all from the BJP. LJP patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan was also a minister till his death last year.JD(U) insiders said the party, which became the second largest constituent in the NDA at the Centre after the departure of 18-member strong Shiv Sena, could ask for three cabinet-rank berths and two ministers of state. Contenders include MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh and party’s Rajya Sabha member Ramnath Thakur.However, a section of leaders in JD(U) said the decision to join the Union cabinet would depend much on whether an offer is also made to the LJP. “If LJP gets representation in the Union cabinet, JD(U) might not join,” said a senior leader on the condition of anonymity.LJP, now led by Jamui MP Chirag Paswan, had fielded 100 candidates in the Bihar Assembly elections last year and the JD(U) blamed the party for damaging its prospects severely. While the BJP won 74 seats, JD(U) ended up with just 43 in the 243-seat Bihar assembly. However, LJP drew a blank in the state polls. This was the first time in the state that the JD(U)’s tally was less than ally BJP’s.Since then, JD(U) and LJP have been at loggerheads.