Bihar: JDU leaders unhappy with the new cabinet of Modi Sarkar 2

JDU chief Nitish Kumar’s main objection is-how can the alliance partner having 16 Lok Sabha and six Rajya Sabha MPs be equated with that which has only one or two members in Parliament

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Soroor Ahmed

Kurmi leaders from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have, in one way or the other, expressed their displeasure over the constitution of new Narendra Modi cabinet on May 30.

While Nitish Kumar, who is the chief minister of Bihar as well as the president of Janata Dal (United) refused to accept the offer of only one berth in the ministry for his party, the leader of Apna Dal and minister in the last cabinet, Anupriya Patel, was conspicuous by her absence from Team Modi. If reports are to be believed, she, in fact wanted cabinet berth instead of minister of state status which she had till recently been enjoying.

However, it is the non-inclusion of anyone from the Janata Dal (United) which came as a surprise as the announcement in this regard came from the Bihar CM late in the afternoon.

It is another thing that both Anupriya and Nitish, at least in the open, rubbished any report of differences within the National Democratic Alliance.

But, JD(U) sources confirmed that Nitish was a bit upset over the way in which the offer was made to his party.

While Nitish wanted three berths––two cabinet rank and one MoS––the offer from BJP was only for one minister from all the allies––big or small.

“What is this, symbolic presence of only one minister? How can the alliance partner having 16 Lok Sabha and six Rajya Sabha MPs be equated with that which has only one or two members in Parliament,” asked a senior party leader.

According to JD(U) sources, the party wanted cabinet berths for former bureaucrat and Rajya Sabha member R C P Singh and newly elected MP from Munger Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh and MoS status for Purnea MP Santosh Kushwaha.

R C P Singh is a Kurmi and also comes from Nitish Kumar’s home district of Nalanda, Lalan is a Bhumihar and Santosh a Kushwaha. The party cannot afford to lose the goodwill of any other two castes by nominating only one minister. Thus it deemed it fit not to join the government at all, said a party leader.

Though the JDU tried to downplay the situation arising after the latest development, sources said that the party cannot afford to lose the support of the BJP as it has to contest the next year’s poll in alliance with it.

This is the third time in succession that Nitish has been in the news around the Lok Sabha poll results. In 2009, he raised the issue of special category status for Bihar just a day before the results. In 2014, he resigned a day after the result owing full responsibility for the defeat of his party JD(U), which then won only two seats. He hand-picked Jitan Ram Manjhi, a Mahadalit minister in his cabinet and made him the CM. It is another thing that the latter had to quit after much controversy.

This time, the Bihar CM shot into news just hours before the swearing in ceremony of the Modi cabinet. All efforts by the PM and other BJP leaders failed to convince him.

So, without JDU there are six ministers from Bihar––five from BJP and one from LJP. The two parties have 17 and six MPs from Bihar respectively. Ministers from the BJP quota are R K Singh, Ashwini Choubey, Giriraj Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nityanand Rai. The last named has been inducted for the first time.

Ram Vilas Paswan continues to represent the Lok Jan Shakti Party.

Former Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and minister of state in the outgoing cabinet Ram Kripal Yadav failed to find place in the new ministry.

So, there are one minister each from Brahmin, Bhumihar, Rajput, Kayastha, Yadav and SC quota.

Apart from Koeri and Kurmi, which owe allegiance to JDU, there is no minister from any business community or Bania community though they had voted for the BJP much more strongly than in 2014.

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