Nitish denies negotiations for JD(U) in Modi cabinet

Last Updated 31 October 2019, 14:36 IST

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday rubbished speculations about fresh negotiations being on for the inclusion of his JD(U) in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, the offer of which he had declined earlier.

Kumar termed the queries about his party having expressed the desire to join the union council of ministers in the event of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah coming up with an offer that was commensurate with the JD(U)s strength in Parliament. as "faltu" (nonsense) "Aisi koi baat nahin hui hai. Sab faltu baat hai" (no such talks have taken place. This is all nonsense) said Kumar with a glum face when he was asked about the JD(U) having "expressed the desire to join the central government" after a function held here to celebrate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

The queries emanated from a statement to the effect made by JD(U) national general secretary and chief spokesman K C Tyagi on the previous day in the national capital soon after Kumar had addressed the party's national council, a day after getting formally elected for his second term as the national president.

When the media returned to Tyagi on Thursday with queries in the light of Kumar's rebuff, he sheepishly replied, "There is no contradiction. I had said we would welcome an offer of proportionate representation if it comes from Modi or Shah. But I never said there is an offer right now".

Tyagi had on Wednesday apparently made an out of turn pitch for JD(U)s proportionate representation at the Centre as a reciprocal gesture to Kumar having inducted many ministers from the BJP, including a Deputy CM, after the two parties joined hands in 2017 even though the saffron party's tally in the state legislature was significantly lower.

Notably, after having fought the Lok Sabha polls as an NDA partner in which the JD(U)s tally jumped to 16 from two in the last general elections, Kumar had initially hinted that his party would like to become a part of the union government.

He, however, pulled back upon being told by the BJP that only a "symbolic representation" was on offer to each coalition partner and that the JD(U) too could have only one representative like other allies.

"The BJP has a brute majority in the Lok Sabha. It does not need allies to run the government. Our support to the NDA, which has been extended in the interests of Bihar, will continue unflinchingly though we feel no need for such a symbolic representation", Kumar had remarked after deciding against joining the Modi government. JD(U) sources say Kumar had felt hurt on two counts.

Firstly, the symbolic representation treated the JD(U) on par with much smaller allies like Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party. Secondly, the JD(U) was being asked to make do with just one ministerial berth even though the BJP which had just one MP more from the state had five ministers from here.

(Published 31 October 2019, 14:36 IST)

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