Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) is aspiring to get four berths in the Narendra Modi government. The party wants two Cabinet and MoS rank berths each in the upcoming expansion, sources said.
The party didn't join the government in 2019 as it demanded that ministries should be given according to the number of Lok Sabha seats won by a party. The JDU has 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha and the BJP 17 MPs from Bihar. The party argues that it should be given four berths.
When asked, Bihar CM and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Union Cabinet expansion said, "I have no knowledge about any formula but our party's national president has the authorization for this. He is the authorised person. Whatever has to be done through discussions, it will be done accordingly."
Sources said that PM Modi could undertake an exercise to expand the Council of Ministers on July 8. The states which will go to the assembly polls early next year, including the all-important Uttar Pradesh, may figure high. West Bengal may also see its representation in the Union Council of Ministers go up, the sources said.
It is also believed that the BJP's allies like JD(U) and Apna Dal can also get representation.
Presently, Republican Party leader Ramdas Athawale, a junior minister, is the only ally in the government after parties like the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal severed ties with the BJP. Lok Janshakti Party founder Ram Vilas Paswan, a Cabinet minister, had died last year and all eyes are on whether his brother Pashupati Kumar Paras will be part of the expansion. Paras is engaged in a bitter battle with Paswan's son Chirag Paswan for the control of the party and has been recognised as the LJP leader in Lok Sabha after five of its six MPs lent their support to him.
The current strength of the Council of Ministers is 53, besides Modi, and its maximum number can be 81.