Hard nosed bargaining ahead for ministerial posts in Bihar

A day after the historic electoral verdict that propelled Nitish Kumar to a second term in Bihar, the JD-U and ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will Thursday begin discussions on the tricky issue of government formation.

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2010, 16:55 PM IST

Patna: A day after the historic electoral verdict that propelled Nitish Kumar to a second term in Bihar, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will Thursday begin discussions on the tricky issue of government formation.

Upbeat after the win that saw the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) bag 206 of 243 seats, newly elected legislators of both parties would meet Thursday ahead of a gathering of the NDA to elect a leader.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley would be arriving in Patna Thursday ahead of the oath-taking ceremony Friday at Gandhi Maidan to meet Nitish Kumar, party leaders and the newly-elected legislators, said a JD-U leader.

Jaitley would be attending the meeting of the newly elected BJP legislators to elect the leader of the legislature party along with his colleagues and central observers Ananth Kumar and Dharmendra Pradhan.

Party sources said Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi is likely to be re-elected as leader of the BJP legislature party.

Though leaders of both the JD-U and the BJP said the process of allocating ministerial berths would be smooth, some feathers could be ruffled.

"We are hopeful," said BJP state president C P Thakur.

But party insiders said the BJP, which has performed better than the last elections, is likely to put pressure for a bigger share of the ministerial berths pie.

"Look, the BJP and the JD-U have been in alliance for long, both understand each other well. The party will put its demand at the right place," BJP leader Giriraj Singh said.

Sources in BJP circles said some leaders had already started lobbying for ministerial berths.

"A group of BJP leaders wants a new formula for government formation to bargain for more ministerial berth," a BJP leader said.

However, JD-U leaders made it clear that there would be no change.

"The government formation will be based more or less on the old formula," JD-U leader Bhim Singh said.

His party colleagues added that Nitish Kumar would call the shots. "Nitish Kumar will be the final authority to decide anything on government formation because the people`s mandate was for him," said one leader.

The JD-U upped its seats from 88 in 2005 to 115 now, and the BJP from 55 to 91.

IANS