Nitish Kumar in Delhi, sets off speculation of Union Cabinet expansion

As soon as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reached the national capital on Tuesday, speculation started doing rounds about possible expansion of the Narendra Modi cabinet and his Janata Dal-United joining the government.

There was also speculation that the Bihar Chief Minister is likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief J.P. Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and others.

However, Nitish Kumar and his party termed the visit as a private one for medical issues and denied any political meetings were scheduled.

“Came here for personal work to get my eye tested and treated. There is no other work,” Nitish Kumar said.

On possible cabinet expansion, he said: “Cabinet expansion is the prerogative of the Prime Minister. There is no talk about it.

It is learnt that Wednesday, Nitish Kumar will be visiting the AIIMS here for an eye check up and he has no other appointment for the day.

“Right now as per the schedule, Nitish Kumarji has only one appointment… that with doctors at AIIMS. He is not meeting anyone for right now. Till now, neither time has been fixed nor has been sought for meeting the Prime Minister, BJP President or Home Minister. It is his personal visit,” a senior JD-U leader said.

Sources also said on medical advice, Nitish Kumar may go for minor eye procedure at AIIMS, so no meeting has been fixed.

Amid the buzz of a possible cabinet expansion at the month end, Nitish Kumar’s visit fuelled the speculation of his JD-U joining the Modi government and number of ministerial berths it get.

Despite being part of the NDA, the JD-U did not join the Modi government in 2019.

A BJP leader said that in 2019, the JD-U had demanded two ministerial berths while the BJP was willing to give only one. “Amid speculation of expansion, the JD-U is mounting pressure for three cabinet berths while BJP is not willing to give more,” the BJP leader said.