Patna: Hours after Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who had expressed his displeasure with the offer of a single berth in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, expanded his council of ministers on Sunday, the BJP and JDU leaders skipped the iftar party hosted by each other.
JDU’s iftar party was organised at Haj Bhavan but no BJP leader turned up for it. The Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi also organised an 'iftar' party but all JDU leaders gave it a miss.
RJD leader and former chief minister Rabri Devi also hosted a similar gathering at her residence in Patna. Several leaders of the grand-alliance, including former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi and Shivanand Tiwari, attended the event.
Nitish Kumar expanded his Council of Ministers on Sunday, with the inclusion of eight JD(U) leaders, while leaving only one seat for the saffron party on which the BJP still has to decide a candidate.
Speaking to reporters, the Bihar chief minister said posts from the JD(U) quota in the cabinet were empty and hence the leaders were inducted, denying any issue with the BJP.
Negating the claim that there is a rift between BJP and JD (U) over the allotment of only one ministerial berth in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new cabinet, newly-inducted minister Shyam Rajak told ANI: "National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is intact. People are merely spreading rumours."
There have been talks of strain in BJP-JD(U) ties ever since Kumar spurned the cabinet berth offer, insisting on “proportional representation” for his party. On returning from the swearing-in in the Capital, Kumar reiterated that there was no trouble brewing and he turned down the offer as his party’s presence would have been “merely symbolic”.
The JD(U) president said BJP chief Amit Shah called him up on May 28 and said he wanted to meet him for discussions the next day. He said the two met in New Delhi where the BJP chief told him that his party wanted to share power with all NDA constituents, and suggested that the JD(U) accept a cabinet berth.
"I kept listening to him and the sense I had was that it was to be a symbolic presence for the JD(U) in the government. I didn't want that. Still, as he insisted, I told him that I will consult my party and get back to him," Kumar told reporters.