- Nitish Kumar has included 8 JDU leaders in the Bihar Cabinet expansion
- He was upset after his party was offered a single berth by BJP-led Centre
- The BJP has been strict about berths in the new Cabinet at the Centre
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was upset after his party was offered only a single berth in the Narendra Modi government, has hit back at the BJP's state unit. In the much-awaited Cabinet expansion on Sunday, he included eight of his party colleagues. The BJP has one berth vacant, for which the party is yet to find a candidate.
Claiming everything is fine in the NDA, Nitish Kumar said, "When the alliance formed, it is decided in advance which party will have how many seats and which department. JDU's vacancies were increased, that is why this happened".
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi - who handles four departments -- tweeted, "Nitish Kumar has offered BJP to fill the vacant ministerial seat. BJP decided to fill it in future".
Leaders of the Janata Dal United privately admit that Nitish Kumar has been upset over the BJP's treatment to the allies after it got a massive mandate in the Lok Sabha elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party has crossed the 300-mark, which is way above the majority mark of 272 in the Lok Sabha.
The BJP, which had been generous to allies during seat sharing, signing off on the wishlist of allies including Nitish Kumar for seat sharing, has been strict about berths in cabinet. All allies have been given what the party called a "symbolic representation" in the government, through one seat each, irrespective of the number of seats they won.
Nitish Kumar said this was not acceptable, pointing out that his party has won 16 of the 17 seats it contested. The BJP won all 17 they contested.
Mr Kumar pushed for a proportional representation, but emphasized his party was with the BJP. "We formed an alliance for the sake of Bihar. We have no wish for symbolic shares. We told the BJP we are with you anyway," Mr Kumar told reporters.
Mr Kumar's move is seen as a signal to the BJP that he is bracing for assembly elections. In the expanded cabinet, he has included two legislators from mahadalit community, two from extreme backward castes, two from forward castes and one from Yadav and Kushwaha communities.