Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday said that his Janata Dal-United will not be part of the Narendra Modi government as it did not want “symbolic representation”.
“They (the BJP) said that they want to give one cabinet rank to every ally. Then we said that we will discuss it with the party members and then only we can say anything over this symbolic representation.
“I spoke to my party leaders and people and they were not agreeing to one berth and the symbolic representation. And this we communicated to them (BJP). They also called up in the morning and then we again conveyed our decision,” he told media persons here.
Nitish Kumar, however, maintained that the JD-U, which is ruling Bihar along with the BJP, will remain part of the National Democratic Alliance.
The Bihar Chief Minister also reached the Rashtrapati Bhawan to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Modi cabinet.
Nitish Kumar on Wednesday arrived in the national capital and directly went to meet Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah. After meeting Shah, Nitish Kumar also held meeting with his party leaders in the evening.
JD-U national General Secretary K.C. Tyagi told IANS: “When Nitish Kumar met Amit Shah, we were told that the every allies of the NDA will get only one berth in the Cabinet despite the fact that how much seats it has won in the elections.”
“And this is where we decided to stay out of the Cabinet,” he said, adding that there was no anger and it will remain the part of the NDA.
The JD-U had contested on 17 out of 40 seats in Bihar and won 16 seats. The BJP also contested 17 and other alliance partner, the Ram Vilas Paswan led-LJP contested on six seats and won all.
The JD-U had contested alone in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, after it snapped its 17- year-old ties with the BJP in 2013. Nitish Kumar had then raised his voice over Modi being declared the prime ministerial candidate by the BJP. However, JD-U then allied with the Lalu Prasad-led RJD and the Congress as part of the Grand Alliance in the 2015 assembly elections and came to power in Bihar.
It then pulled out of the Grand Alliance in 2017 and joined hands with the BJP again to form the government in the state.
Before 2014, the JD-U had been part of the 1999 Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government from 1999 to 2004 and three of its senior leaders – George Fernandes, Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar – were part of the Union Cabinet.
Fernandes held the portfolio of Defence Minister from October 13, 1999 to March 16, 2001. He, however, stepped down from the post after the Tehelka defence scandal broke out in March 2001, but was reappointed on October 21, 2001.
Sharad Yadav, started his stint in the Vajpayee government as Minister of Civil Aviation on October 13, 1999 to August 31, 2001, then held the portfolio of Labour from September 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002 and finally, was Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution from July 1, 2002 to May 15, 2004.
Nitish Kumar was Railway Minister from March 20, 2001 to May 22, 2004.