Nitish doesn't rule out JD(U) joining Union govt, ducks queries on formula

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Patna, Jul 8 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Tuesday did not rule out the possibility of his JD(U) joining the Narendra Modi government during its likely expansion but insisted it was the party's national president who will take a call on the number of berths acceptable to it.

Talking to reporters here, Kumar said expansion of the Union council of ministers was a prerogative of the prime minister and that he 'did not have much information' about what was being offered to his party.

'I relinquished the party's national president's post a few months ago. Current president RCP Singh has been authorised to take a call in the matter. Only he can share the details,' the chief minister, the party's de facto leader, said with a smile playing on his lips.

When pointed out that he had disapproved of the BJP's offer of 'token representation' for allies in the government after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Kumar quipped, 'I was then the national president of the party, a post which I no longer hold.' Responding to a query as to whether his party was likely to stick to its previous stand of not joining the Union council of ministers, the JD(U) leader said, 'I do not think at any point of time it has been said that our party will never join the Union Cabinet.' He deflected questions about speculation in the media that the JD(U), which has become the largest ally of the BJP after Shiv Sena's exit from NDA, was bargaining for three to four berths.

'These are things you should be asking RCP Singh,' he said.

Incidentally, Singh, a former IAS officer, has risen to the top postion in the party within a decade of taking the political plunge, and is seen as a frontrunner for a Cabinet berth.

The chief minister also said he was all set to revive his public interaction programme 'Janata Ke Darbar Mein Mukhyamantri' from next week.

'Of course, there will be some constraints in view of the corona pandemic. Citizens who appear on any given day with their grievances will be extended all facilities, including transport,' Kumar said. PTI NAC SK SK

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