Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday amidst speculations around expansion of the Union cabinet and long-awaited Janata Dal (United) representation in it. Other issues like Bihar’s battle with the Covid-19 pandemic and floods are also likely to be addressed in the talks.
Kumar arrived in the national capital on Tuesday. He, however, downplayed the reports linking his visit to the possible cabinet expansion. “I have no reaction to this. It is their internal matter,” the JD(U) leader said, adding that he is in Delhi for eye checkup.
Kumar said the expansion of cabinet is the privilege of the prime minister, and there is no issue over it.
The JD(U) had decided to stay out of the Union Cabinet in 2019, when Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government began its second term. Kumar had decided against having a symbolic representation in the cabinet with just one minister and demanded that it would have been better had all NDA allies got proportional representation.
The JD(U) has 16 Lok Sabha members, but the BJP had offered it just one berth.
This time, there is expectation that the JD(U) will get more berths, considering the growing expectation within the party and BJP not in a position to upset its crucial ally at this stage.
JD(U) president RCP Singh has already said that the party should get respectable representation in the Union cabinet and that the party should be consulted in this regard. “JD-U is part of the NDA and the allies should get respect in a coalition,” he had said just a few days ago.
There is also the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) factor. Kumar may not prefer Chirag Paswan, who has been openly critical of the Bihar chief minister. The JD(U) leader is still upset with Paswan for reducing his party to third position in Bihar polls by fielding candidates against it.
A senior JD(U) leader told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity that the party is expecting a better share as the BJP would like the infighting within the LJP to settle before inducting anyone from the party.
This wil be Kumar’s second meeting with PM Modi after he took over as chief minister last year. Kumar had last met the Prime Minister in February this year, when he had backed the farm laws, describing them in the interest of farmers in the face of protests by the farmers’ bodies.