Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s visit to Delhi is in the spotlight over speculation that he may meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss his party’s inclusion in the Union Cabinet.
Nitish Kumar is likely to arrive in Delhi tomorrow. Sources in his Janata Dal United call it a private visit and deny any meeting with the Prime Minister, but speculation suggests more at a time a cabinet expansion is in the works.
The JDU stayed out of the Cabinet in 2019 when PM Modi began his second term, over a disagreement between Nitish Kumar and the BJP on the number of ministries; the Chief Minister had insisted on two ministries, the BJP was willing to concede only one.
There are reports that Mr Kumar will meet with both PM Modi and BJP president JP Nadda in Delhi though his party denies it.
Recently, JDU leader RCP Singh had said that the party should be given its due representation in the cabinet as an important ally of the BJP.
The JDU has 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
Its reported role in the split in Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is also linked to the promise of a cabinet post.
Chirag Paswan’s uncle Pashupati Paras, who led a coup in the LJP and established himself as its new chief, announced on Thursday that he’s set to join the union government soon. “When I take oath as a union minister, I will resign as leader of the parliamentary party”, the 71-year-old Bihar politician told reporters.
The surprise announcement, for many, was proof of the role played by Nitish Kumar and the BJP in the LJP split.
Sources say when there was a vacancy in the central government Chirag Paswan was considered as a replacement for his father and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who died in office last year.
Nitish Kumar’s firm refusal blocked that move, sources say; he refused to accept the BJP’s ties with Chirag Paswan after the 38-year-old MP relentlessly targeted him during the Bihar election. A plan to sideline Chirag and promote his uncle, a vocal supporter of Nitish Kumar, was then devised over several secret meetings, sources say.