NDA in a dilemma over cabinet expansion in Bihar

By Manoj Pathak
Patna, Jan 9 (IANS) After six Janata Dal (United) MLAs joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Arunachal Pradesh, the alliance between the two parties may seem to be intact after leaders of both the parties met each other, but a decision on the cabinet expansion in Bihar is still pending.

However, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been holding the BJP responsible for not expanding the cabinet. The BJP leaders are talking about a cabinet expansion, but the air has still not been cleared which does not bode well for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Bihar.

Nitish Kumar made it clear on Friday that there have been no talks with BJP leaders on Thursday regarding the cabinet expansion.

The Chief Minister went a step further saying,” Why didn’t it take so long in the past for the cabinet expansion?”

On Thursday, after BJP’s Bihar unit in-charge Bhupendra Yadav and several other leaders met Nitish Kumar, it led to speculation that the cabinet expansion would take place now.

Earlier, the Chief Minister said that no proposal has come so far, holding the BJP responsible for the delay in expansion of the cabinet. The BJP has not said anything after Kumar’s statement on the cabinet expansion.

However, BJP Spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel said that the state party leadership and the BJP high command would soon talk to Nitish Kumar about the issue.

Sources said that the cabinet expansion issue is now only between the BJP and the JD(U). The ruling alliance comprises four parties, out of which the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) have got one cabinet berth each.

Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the new Bihar Chief Minister along with 14 ministers on December 16, after the NDA secured a majority in the Assembly elections. One of the ministers Mewalal Choudhary has resigned from the cabinet.

Meanwhile, NDA ally and HAM President Jitan Ram Manjhi has demanded another ministerial post. The majority figure in the Bihar Assembly is 122. At present, the NDA has 125 MLAs.

HAM and the VIP have four seats each in the Assembly. Manjhi’s demand has further put a question mark over the cabinet expansion.

The BJP and JD(U) leaders, though not openly, are expressing doubts over the current Bihar government completing its full tenure.

At present, the NDA is in a fix regarding the cabinet expansion and the Opposition Grand Alliance is also adopting a ‘wait and watch’ policy.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwari said the NDA alliance has been put together only to remain in power. When there is so much delay in the expansion of the cabinet, it can be understood how the current state government would run for full five years, he added.

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