The BJP, engaged in a tussle with ally Shiv Sena over power sharing in Maharashtra, may soon have another battle on its hands. In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United today said it was open to an offer of a cabinet berth in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. The party, however, insisted that it would stick to its demand of proportional representation, which proved a deal breaker the last time.
After the JDU’s National Council meeting in Delhi today, the party’s national spokesman KC Tyagi said if participation is based on numbers and the top leadership — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah – try to bring Janata Dal United in the Union cabinet, “then we will welcome this step”.
After the Lok Sabha election in May, Nitish Kumar had refused to join the government in Delhi when his party was offered only one ministerial berth.
When he insisted on proportional representation in view of the high number of Lok Sabha seats his party won in Bihar, the BJP conveyed that given its massive victory, it was offering all allies a token representation.
The two parties, which form the ruling alliance in Bihar, have been at odds since. The rift showed on several instances, including the recent floods in Patna, when the state government’s handling of the situation was criticised by a section of the BJP led by Union minister Giriraj Singh.
The shift in JDU’s stance comes as the Shiv Sena is holding firm on its demand for a 50:50 power share, which translates to the Chief Minister’s post for Aaditya Thackeray for half the 5-year term and half the ministerial berths in the state.
While the BJP has made it clear that it was not ready to entertain the Sena’s demand, the cantankerous ally indicates that it is in no mood to relent.
The Sena insists that it was the 50:50 formula discussed with BJP chief Amit Shah ahead of the election.
Before the Sena, it was Nitish Kumar who had insisted on a 50:50 formula for sharing of Lok Sabha seats. The BJP had acceded to the demand.
Assembly elections will be held in Bihar next year and Amit Shah has made it clear that the ruling coalition will contest it under Mr Kumar’s leadership. Today’s comment from the JDU is seen as an indication that they might be holding out for more.
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