Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (PTI file)
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (PTI file)

Not part of government, Nitish Kumar leaves for Patna

  • The JD(U) was reportedly offered a lone seat in the new government
  • The party won 16 of the 17 seats it had contested from Bihar

New Delhi: Janata Dal (United) supremo Nitish Kumar left for Patna on Friday morning after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally opted out of the newly formed government, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reportedly offering it a lone seat.

Kumar attended the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi with his council of ministers on 30 May at the Rashtrapati Bhavan wherein he was seated in the front row. JD (U) headed by the Bihar chief minister opted out of the newly formed government comprising of 57 ministers—24 of Cabinet rank, 9 of independent minister of state rank and 24 ministers of state.

“Nitishji left for Patna today. There has been no signs of rapprochement yet. JD(U) has and will remain a part of the NDA," according to a person aware of the development requesting anonymity.

The JD(U)’s move comes against the backdrop of the party’s strong performance in the elections to the 17th Lok Sabha, in which it won 16 of the 17 seats it had contested from Bihar. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) won all 17 seats and six seats, respectively, which they contested, giving the NDA 39 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

Kumar had met BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday. On 25 May, Nitish Kumar also attended a meeting of the NDA partners.

Mint reported on 27 May about JD(U)'s plans to recommend its Rajya Sabha member of Parliament (MP) R.C.P. Singh and newly elected Lok Sabha MP from Munger Rajiv Ranjan Singh for Cabinet berths in the new Narendra Modi government, if the NDA ally was invited to be a part of the government.

In the 2015 Bihar assembly polls, BJP fought against a Congress-RJD-JD(U) combine and fared badly. In 2017, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar switched side to the BJP-led NDA, ousting the Congress-RJD combine. In the 243-seat Bihar assembly, the RJD is the largest party with 79 seats, followed by the JD(U) (73 seats), the BJP (55 seats) and the Congress (27 seats). The state assembly elections are around 15 months away.