New Delhi: Nitish Kumar's party Janata Dal United that joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance last month may not have any representation in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's council of ministers for now. A list of nine leaders set to join PM Modi's team on Sunday morning, which was disclosed by government sources, does not have any names from any of the BJP's allies including the JD (U) or the Shiv Sena.
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The two allies had been left out because the BJP leadership had not been able to come up with a formula for representation that could satisfy all allies, news agency Press Trust of India said, quoting sources.
The Shiv Sena, which had unsuccessfully pushed for a second Cabinet berth, was reported to have argued that if the JD (U) with its two MPs in Lok Sabha could get two ministries, there was no reason why the Sena too should not get more with 18 Lok Sabha members.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Shiv Sena has three members while the JD(U) has 10.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters in Patna that no talks between the BJP and his party have been held. "There was no such talk of JD (U) joining the Union Cabinet," Mr Kumar said.
Just three weeks ago, the party's spokesperson KC Tyagi had, however, announced that there was no reason for the party not to get ministerial berths at the centre. "When we are together in government in Bihar, it is only natural that our party joins the Union government," Mr Tyagi said.
A top JD (U) leader later clarified that it had become clear some time back that this reshuffle was supposed to be a BJP-only exercise. "We really weren't expecting anything," he said.
Shiv Sena, the BJP ally in Maharashtra, also spoke on similar lines with its chief Uddhav Thackeray saying he has received no information from the BJP. I have not enquired about it (from the central BJP leadership). I have neither received any communication from anybody nor are we hungry for power," he said.
This isn't the first time that the BJP has cold shouldered its Maharashtra ally. When the BJP had rejected the Shiv Sena's demand for the second cabinet berth last year, the Shiv Sena had spoken about how it was "a dignified party with self-respect".
"Whatever comes, it should be with respect. We shall not beg for anything," Mr Thackrey had told reporters after the expansion in July last year.
Nine new ministers including former Indian Foreign Service officer Hardeep Puri, ex-Mumbai Police chief Satya Pal Singh and retired Indian Administrative Service officer KJ Alphons will be inducted into the union council of ministers today as part of a major revamp of PM Modi's team.
The new faces include BJP parliamentarians Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Bihar), Virendra Kumar (Madhya Pradesh) and Shiv Pratap Shukla (Uttar Pradesh). The others are Anant Kumar Hegde, Raj Kumar Singh, Hardeep Puri, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Satyapal Singh and Mr Alphons.