By MANOJ CHAURASIA
PATNA: Has Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar committed the blunder by joining the NDA?
At least, that’s what was indicated, first by denial of berth to the JD-U in the Narendra Modi cabinet, then the chief minister not even being served an invitation to attend the searing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan and finally induction of BJP leaders in the cabinet who had been opposed to the chief minister.
Since the JD-U joined the NDA over a fortnight ago, speculations were rife about two JD-U leaders, considered the ‘yesmen’ of the chief minister, getting place in the Modi cabinet during its reshuffle.
The local media quoting the JD-U sources even had published the names of the leaders who were likely to get a berth in the Union cabinet. The JD-U never denied those reports.
Reports said the JD-U was had been promised two berths in the Union cabinet while the deal for dumping the three-party Grand Alliance and joining the BJP-led NDA was being finalized in July end.
Kumar wanted two ministerial berths for his party to prove its supremacy over other NDA partners from Bihar, such as Lok Janshakti Party headed by Ram Vilas Paswan and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party led by Upendra Kushwaha.
Both the parties have one minister each. Kumar’s contention was that his party has more lawmakers—both in the Parliament and Bihar assembly—but this move went awry after he remained adamant on his demand.
What further spoiled his plan was the allegation by the Shiv Sena that the BJP was giving more weightage to the JD-U than the former despite having few members in the Lok Sabha.
Eventually, the BJP dropped its plan to give representation to the JD-U in the Modi cabinet.
But, what was surprising for the JD-U leadership it was not even informed about it. This was himself confirmed by the chief minister who said he had no information about all reshuffle exercise and that he came to know about it only through the media.
What, however, was the biggest setback for the chief minister was that the JD-U was not even served invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, reports said.
This was the fourth successive “setbacks” to the chief minister since he joined the BJP camp in July end. Earlier the Prime Minister was expected to attended Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony at the Raj Bhawna in Patna on 27 July but he skipped later.
Last week, during his visit to Bihar to undertake aerial survey of the flood-affected areas, the Prime Minister even “avoided” lunch with the chief minister and then announced little relief package for flood victims. The PM announced only Rs500 crore for the flood victims against the demand of Rs10,787 crores!
What came as another setback for the chief minister, according to political experts, was the induction of RK Singh and Ashwini Kumar Choube, BJP MPs from Bihar, who are said to be from anti-Advani camp.
Singh, a former bureaucrat, had hit the headlines when he arrested Mr Advani who was taking out a rath yatra from Somnath to Ayopdhya in October 1990 at the height of Ayodhaya movement, in Samastipur district. Choube too seems to have been rewarded for his opposition to Advani camp.
And, Nitish Kumar is believed to be Advani sympathizer who had opposed his “marginalization” in the BJP after the Modi-Amit Shah duo took the centrestage in the saffron party.
“BJP ke tin ddharohar, Atal Advani, Murali Manohar” was what Nitish Kumar once said about the BJP.