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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

After 2019 refusal, JD(U) now keen to join Union ministry

This comes amid Bihar Chief Minister and party chief Nitish Kumar's visit to Delhi on Tuesday, and speculation on a Union Cabinet reshuffle.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: June 22, 2021 2:00:31 pm
After 2019 refusal, JD(U) now keen to join Union ministryBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (File)

The JD(U), which had declined the BJP’s offer to join the Union Cabinet soon after the NDA formed the second government under Narendra Modi in 2019, looks keen on joining the Centre now.

This comes amid Bihar Chief Minister and party chief Nitish Kumar’s visit to Delhi on Tuesday, and speculation on a Union Cabinet reshuffle.

On Monday, JD(U) national president R C P Singh said his party and the BJP are sharing power in Bihar and there could be no surprise if JD(U) joins the Union Cabinet sooner or later. Singh, however, emphasised that Nitish’s scheduled Delhi visit is for “personal reasons”, and that no political reason should be attached to it.

The JD(U) has 16 Lok Sabha and five Rajya Sabha MPs, and the party is learnt to have received feelers from BJP about joining the Union government.

An NDA leader said: “The BJP may well have (next year’s) UP Assembly polls in mind, and Nitish Kumar could play an important role in wooing OBC Patel/ Kurmi votes in Purvanchal and adjoining areas.”

Meanwhile, a source in Pashupati Paras faction of LJP said Paras could also be included in the possible Union Cabinet expansion. Paras has already said that he will quit as LJP faction’s Parliamentary party leader if made a Union minister.

JD(U) leader R C P Singh, who had spoken about the NDA giving due “share” to its alliance partners a fortnight ago, told the media on Monday: “We have been with BJP since 1996, and our top leaderships have no tension. As and when we join the Union Cabinet, there would always be better coordination. We are already together in governing Bihar.”

Asked about the importance of a “double engine” government at the Centre, Singh said, “Whether it is a single-engine government or double-engine one, it is about thinking how Bihar can progress.” Asked about his name doing the rounds as a probable ministerial candidate, he said: “My name has been doing the rounds since 2017. Let people speculate… Our top leader takes a call on such matters after due discussion.”

Senior JD(U) leader and Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh, alias Lalan Singh, seen as another contender for a Union ministerial berth, said, “It is the PM’s discretion to expand his Cabinet; it is also his discretion to hold consultation with any ally (on possible expansion). As of now, it’s all speculation.”

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