Modi's new Cabinet: Elections, caste equations weigh heavy in rejig

Express News Service
PATNA:  Finally, Bihar’s ruling JD-U has joined the Union Cabinet, although the party has to be content with only one berth. It has 16 MPs. LJP got one berth. The BJP already had one. The JD-U had to accept what it was offered in 2019.

Then also, the name of Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh was dropped, hours before the oath-taking ceremony. As a result, JD-U refused to join the cabinet of ministers. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced not to join the Central cabinet, without getting ‘proportional representation’.

But this time, BJP accorded equal political weightage to JD-U and the spilt group of five MPs of LJP. The JD-U had bargained for at least two cabinet berths and one state minister,  in order to accommodate Rajiv Lalan and another. But efforts to convince BJP went in vain.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the new faces and asked them to continue with whatever number of berths are given to their parties. 

In Patna, political analyst AK Mishra said: “The real factor that made JD-U accept the offer of only one berth was its reduced political stature in the state after the Assembly elections. Had the JD-U come out stronger, it would not have agreed to only one berth”. The state’s principal opposition RJD attacked Nitish Kumar, accusing him of being unable to rise above caste considerations.