Miffed over Central berths, Nitish offers single seat to BJP in Bihar cabinet

Deepika S

Patna, June 02: Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday expanded Bihar cabinet on Sunday with Eight new ministers taking the oath of office and secrecy in the presence of Governor Lalji Tandon. Allies BJP and LJP were left out of the cabinet expansion.

The new Ministers are: Sanjay Jha, Neeraj Kumar, Shyam Rajak, Bima Bharti, Ashok Chaudhury, Narendra Narayan Yadav, Laxmeshwar Rai and Ram Sevak Singh.

Sanjay Jha, a long time close confidante of Kumar, was recently elected as MLC. He wanted to contest the Lok Sabha election from Darbhanga but the seat had gone to the alliance partner BJP under the seat-sharing pact with the NDA.

Kumar said the vacancies were majorly created by JD(U) ministers, who resigned from their posts for various reasons. Tension seems to have been brewing between the alliance partners over allotment of berth in the Narendra Modi cabinet, although Kumar asserted that there was "no unease" between the partners.

Also Read | Make us an offer we can't refuse: JD(U) on joining Modi government

Three seats in the Nitish Kumar cabinet fell vacant following the election of JD(U) ministers to the Lok Sabha. The three ministers who were elected to the Lower House of Parliament included Water Resources Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, Disaster Management Minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav and LJP's Bihar unit chief and Animal and Fisheries Resources Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras.

One post fell vacant last year after Manju Verma resigned as Social Welfare Minister in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home case.

The JD(U), he had said, decided against joining the Modi ministry as allies were not given "proportional representation" in the cabinet.

Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi seconded Kumar and said the party was indeed offered a berth. "The BJP decided to fill it in future," Sushil Modi tweeted.

It may be recalled that on Thursday, the JD(U) decided against joining the Narendra Modi-led central government, saying it would not accept the BJP's offer of only one ministerial berth.

"They (BJP) wanted only one person from JD(U) in the cabinet, so it would have been just symbolic participation. We informed them that we do not need it (Cabinet berth)," the Bihar CM had said.

Nitish, however, attended Modi's swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan and also told media that he was not thinking much over ministerial berth, stressing that his party was fully in the NDA.

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Proportional representation in cabinet needed, says Nitish Kumar

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