A DAY after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inducted 26 ministers in his Cabinet, the first hints of rumblings in the NDA emerged on Sunday with sources saying that junior allies RLSP and HAM(S) were upset at being kept out. The sources said RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha was upset over denial of ministerial berth to his party MLA Sudhanshu Shekhar and HAM (S) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi was livid that his son Santosh Suman was not considered.
Manjhi, who is in Delhi, gave the example of LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan’s brother Pashupati Kumar Paras, who was made a minister despite not being a member of either Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council to make his case. Paswan reportedly had cleared Paras’s name with the central BJP leadership.
Sources told The Indian Express that Kushwaha had asked for two berths but the BJP said that the LJP and RLSP, which have two MLAs each, can get only one minister each. “Kushwaha reconciled to the BJP formula and sent the name of party MLA Sudhanshu Shekhar but CM Nitish Kumar said no to it. Nitish was probably upset at Kushwaha showing his discomfort over his re-entry into NDA,” said a source. Nitish was open to RLSP MLC Sanjeev Shyam Singh being made a minister but Kushwaha insisted on Sudhanshu’s name, the source added. Kushwaha could not be contacted.
Kushwaha, who has not gone public with his displeasure yet, may not enjoy great comfort with Nitish returning to the NDA as a senior ally. Both he and Nitish share the same social base. “Nitish Kumar would not allow Kushwaha the space he used to enjoy in NDA. Though Kushwaha may recalibrate his strategy in the oversized NDA, the next few months would give a better picture of how he reacts,” said another source.
Former CM Manjhi, the lone HAM(S) MLA, reportedly wanted a ministerial berth for his son Santosh Suman but the BJP flatly refused as it would mean giving an MLC position to Santosh Suman. An upset Manjhi left for Delhi to take up his case with the BJP central leadership.
Sources said Manjhi can at best get a Governor post after some time. “But BJP cannot accommodate both father and son. Had he proved his worth in 2015 Assembly elections, it would have been possible,” said a BJP leader. Manjhi’s party, which contested 22 seats, won only one. Manjhi, who won from Imamganj, had lost the other seat he contested — Maqdumpur.
The LJP, which could win only two seats in the last Assembly election, however, was treated better by BJP, which agreed to give MLC seat to Paswan’s brother and LJP state president Pashupati Kumar Paras. The LJP picked Paras ahead of its two MLAs.