Ram Vilas Paswan said Nitish Kumar will always remain a force in the NDA.
NDA ally Ram Vilas Paswan today claimed he has spoken to BJP chief Amit Shah regarding cabinet berths that have created a rift between the party and Nitish Kumar. Calling himself the “cementing force of the NDA”, the leader who is expecting a Rajya Sabha seat, said “This (cabinet berths) is a non-issue and will be sorted out”.
Nitish Kumar, who inducted eight ministers into his ministry today — all from his Janata Dal United — has claimed all is well between him and the NDA.
The BJP — after getting a sweeping mandate from the people in the national elections that pushed its tally well over the majority mark in the Lok Sabha — has offered all its allies one cabinet berth each, irrespective of their strength in the lower house of parliament.
The party has called this a “symbolic representation” – a concept Nitish Kumar has disagreed with. The Bihar Chief Minister had insisted on “proportional representation” and after failing to convince the BJP, refused to be part of the government.
The disagreement is seen as the latest rift between the two allies, who had been at odds even before the election.
Mr Kumar had insisted on a 50:50 division of seats and Amit Shah had to fly down from Delhi to sort out the issue. On that occasion, Mr Kumar had carried out his point and the BJP and his Janata Dal United had contested on 17 seats each, leaving six for Mr Paswan’s Lok Janashakti Party.
Today, Mr Paswan refused to comment on whether the BJP formula of symbolic representation was right. “I’m the cementing force in the NDA and will do anything to keep it intact,” the leader told reporters in Patna today. But he was also all praise for Nitish Kumar, saying the Chief Minister was and will remain a force in the NDA.
He even said his Lok Janashakti Party’s victory in the six seats it was allotted, was “not by my individual efforts but Nitish-ji and the BJP’s efforts”.
He also praised the Chief Minister for inducting his younger brother Pashupati Kumar Paras in the cabinet when Nitish Kumar re-united with the BJP in July 2017.
Mr Paswan is likely to call on Nitish Kumar to invite him for an Iftar party he is hosting on Monday.