The Bharatiya Janata Party ally Janata Dal-United, which had refused to join the Modi government in June, on Wednesday pushed for a "proportionate representation" for the party in the Union Cabinet, saying if Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP president Amit Shah takes an initiative to this effect, it will welcome the move.
Shortly after Nitish Kumar addressed his party's national council following his reelection as party president for a fresh three-year term, the JD-U reminded the BJP that the Bihar chief minister has given the saffron party a proportionate representation in the state government.
Briefing reporters on Kumar's speech and other issues, JD-U general secretary K C Tyagi noted that the mandate of the 2015 Bihar assembly poll was "against" the BJP but Kumar conceded to it the post of deputy chief minister besides sharing ministerial berths.
The assertive stand of the JD-U, which had not joined the Modi government as it was offered only one berth, comes at a time when another BJP ally Shiv Sena is demanding equal division of power in Maharashtra after its bigger partner's below-par performance in the recent assembly poll.
"If NDA leaders Modi and Shah take an initiative for the JD-U's proportionate representation in the government, we will welcome it," Tyagi said, noting that his party is the biggest NDA constituent in Bihar.
An adequate representation of JD-U will make Bihar more representative in the Union government, he said, adding that it will be socially more broadbased and cohesive.
The BJP had offered one berth to each of its ally following its landslide win in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The JD-U had sought at least three ministerial berths.
Underscoring his party's long-held grievance, Tyagi noted that the JD-U was not inducted in the first Modi government as well, even though it inducted BJP leaders in the state government after breaking ties with Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress in 2017.
As part of the opposition grand alliance in Bihar, Kumar had inflicted a heavy defeat on the BJP-led NDA in 2015 but joined it later following his differences with the RJD.
In the recent Lok Sabha election,the BJP and JD-U had won 17 and 16 seats respectively in the state followed by six of the Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party.
Tyagi, however, added his party was imposing no condition on the BJP over the issue of Cabinet berths.
In his speech, Kumar batted for nation-wide prohibition, spoke at length about his government's pro-women measures and rejected criticism over law and order issues in Bihar.
He also pitched for value-based politics, saying Mahatma Gandhi's concept of 'seven social sins' should be part of political campaigns.
Tyagi also asserted that there is no "confusion" in his party's alliance with the BJP after Shah's recent statement that the NDA will fight the 2020 assembly polls in Bihar under Kumar's leadership.
"We will do even better than the 2010 poll results," he said.
The NDA had then won 206 of the 243 seats.
The JD-U, he added, will fight the upcoming assembly polls in Jharkhand and Delhi on its own.
The party's aim is to become a national party, which requires a party to be recognised in at least four states.
The JD-U is currently a recognised party in Bihar and Arunachal Pradesh.