Nitish Kumar leaves for Delhi amid speculations about JD(U) joining Union government

PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday left for the national capital, purportedly for medical reasons, though speculations ran rife that bargaining a decent share in the Union cabinet was also on the agenda of the JD(U) de-facto leader.

The JD(U) has been a BJP ally for close to three decades, barring a hiatus in 2013-2017.

Kumar, who had himself served in the cabinet headed by late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, turned down the offer of the saffron party of a “token representation” to all alliance partners after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi steering the BJP to a thumping majority.

“I do not know why his Delhi tour is being linked to the proposed cabinet reshuffle. To the best of my knowledge, he needs treatment for some eye problem and is visiting the national capital for the purpose,” said Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan, one of the closest aides of Kumar.

The Union cabinet reshuffle is a prerogative of the prime minister and it is for him to decide whom to hold consultations with on the issue, Singh said.

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Singh, who has been with Kumar ever since the latter broke ranks with Lalu Prasad to chart his own political course, is seen as one of the candidates the JD(U) might strongly back, were it to join the Union council of ministers.

Another ministerial probable RCP Singh, who succeeded Kumar as the national president of the party a few months ago, laughed off at the suggestion but dropped ample hints that the JD(U) was now eyeing a spot in the Union government.

“My name has been doing the rounds since 2017. Any decision as to who will be in the Union cabinet from our party has to be taken by our leader. Of course, he does so after consulting all,” said Singh, a former IAS officer whose rise in politics, after retirement from service about a decade ago, has been meteoric.

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He said, “We agree, it does not look good that we are partners in power in the state but not at the Centre, though we are a part of the NDA there as well. Things will look up for both parties once we join the Union government.”

He also took a swipe at LJP leader Chirag Paswan, who has been cornered within the party following a revolt by all his fellow MPs who have floated a separate faction.

“I heard his two statements that he is the son of a tiger (late Ram Vilas Paswan) and that he is now an orphan. Has anybody ever heard of a tiger lamenting for being orphaned?” the JD(U) chief said.

The JD(U) suffered in the assembly polls last year because of Paswans sudden rebellion, initially believed to be having the backing of the BJP which has now distanced itself from the Jamui MP.