Nitish said that JD (U) is a regional party and his focus was development of Bihar.
“I never demanded cabinet berth at the Centre. It was the creation of media. I will not speak on this issue and request the media to ask on other issues,” he said, after getting restless when asked repeatedly about the cabinet reshuffle.
Party insiders have told News18 that the JD (U) has accepted that no alliance partner can dictate terms with the BJP having 283 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
“This NDA is different from what was during Atal ji era in which Nitish ji was also a minister. Now BJP has 283 MPs in the Lok Sabha. Which alliance partner will try to dictate terms? This is the political reality,” a leader close to Kumar told News18.
However, Nitish has been given a free hand to govern in Bihar, he added.
On the question of participation without representation, the leader told that joining the government was inevitable. “BJP made this reshuffle as a party affair as negotiations with other partners did not fructify. We will be part of the government but at the later stage,” he said.
The JD (U), after getting invitation from BJP national president Amit Shah, formally joined the NDA on August 19 by passing a unanimous resolution in its national executive. After the decision was taken, almost every JD (U) leader had said that it has paved way for joining the Union cabinet.
The JD (U) kept mum on the matter till Nitish himself clarified on the issue. Now, party’s spokesman Neeraj Kumar told News18 that only resolution to join NDA was passed in the national executive and joining the union government was not discussed.
Surendra Kishore, a senior journalist, said, “There is perceivable change in Nitish. He is a stoic Nitish who knows his hands are tied. Though he is on driving seat in Bihar, he can’t bargain at the Centre.”
Referred to Nitish’s glorified stature in the NDA when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister, he said, “Nitish had a good strength in the Parliament and he was considered close to Atal ji and Advani ji. But after generational shift in the BJP, the form and nature of today’s NDA is completely different.”
Nitish has been defending his decision to form a new government with the help of BJP on the ground that the top leaders of mahagathbandhan ally Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) were deep neck in corruption.
However. Nitish also took strong exception of the reports of Lalu Yadav’s emissaries meeting senior BJP leaders in Delhi to bargain a deal for ousting him from the post of the CM. He, perhaps for the first time after breaking the alliance, said, “Wo to hamara Ilaaj karna chahte the whan Dilli me. Lekin kya hona that ye kisko pata tha (They were trying to teach me a lesson what nobody knew what was in the store).”
According to Kishore, Nitish’s repeated assertion on corruption charges faced by Lalu and a plot to dislodge him were actually the primary reason for his sudden decision to return to the NDA fold. “Nitish had to teach Yadav a lesson and it happened overnight. Dethroning RJD from the state was in his hands but bargaining number of ministerial berths at the Centre is very difficult for him,” He said.
JD(U) has only two MPs in the Lok Sabha which is also proved to be a hurdle as Shiv Sena, with 18 MPs, could have demanded proportionate representation.
JD(U) leaders also admit that none of the LS MPs are capable of handling ministry. However, barring three rebels, Nitish has seven MPs in the Rajya Sabha and the party is willing to pick probables among them.