JD-U keeps close watch on Maharashtra

The Asian Age.  | Sreeparna Chakrabarty

India, All India

Nitish Kumar-led party wants same Cabinet berths at Centre as Shiv Sena.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Janata Dal (United) is keenly observing the Maharashtra political drama between the Shiv Sena and BJP in order to measure its own prospects for inclusion in the Union Cabinet.

With speculation rife that the BJP has decided to give two more Cabinet berths at the Centre — one Union ministry and one minister of state — to the Sena as part of the bargain for government formation in Maharashtra, a senior JD(U) leader hinted that the JDU, too, would not settle for anything less.

The Sena already has one minister at the Centre —  namely Arvind Sawant, who has the heavy industries and public enterprises portfolio.

With two more Cabinet berths, the Sena will have a total three ministries at the Centre.  This means that the JD(U) expects three Cabinet berths at the Centre to match the Sena tally.

It might be recalled that the JD(U) had refused to join the Union Cabinet in May this year as only one ministerial berth was offered to them. Terming the BJP’s offer of participation in the Union Cabinet as “symbolic representation”, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had then said that his party would not be part of the Narendra Modi government. However, in a sudden change of stance last week, the JD(U) upped the ante by pushing for “proportional reprsentation” in the Union Cabinet. The party also said that it would contest the coming Assembly polls in Delhi and Jharkhand on its own wherever it had pockets of strength.

Reminding the BJP that the Bihar CM had given the saffron party proportionate representation in the state government, JD(U) national spokesperson K.C. Mr Tyagi said that if Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP president Amit Shah took the initiative for the party’s inclusion in the Union Cabinet, they would welcome the move.

Mr Tyagi added that the adequate representation of JD(U) would make Bihar more representative in the Union government and it would be socially more broad-based and cohesive.