NEW DELHI: The death of LJP leader and food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan has turned the Union Cabinet into a mostly all-BJP affair. While the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) still has more than a dozen constituents, Ramdas Athawale of the Republican Party of India (RPI) is now the lone non-BJP representative in the Council of Ministers.
While Shiv Sena had pulled out its representative Arvind Savant following the bitter dispute with BJP last year over power-sharing in Maharashtra, Harsimrat Kaur Badal of Shiromani Akali Dal quit the government citing differences over the just-enacted farm laws.
Speculation about a likely expansion of the Union Cabinet has been rife for some time, with the induction of Congress rebel Jyotiraditya Scindia adding fuel to the buzz. However, with the BJP leadership preoccupied with Bihar polls, it may have to wait until mid-November.
Among the remaining NDA allies, JD(U) is the largest constituent after BJP, but has stayed out of the government for reasons that have remained shrouded in secrecy. The issue of LJP joining the Union ministry has become uncertain as the party has quit the alliance in Bihar and is contesting the polls alone.
Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel, who was junior minister for five years in the first government, didn’t join in 2019. Sources said she wanted elevation to Cabinet rank, which was not accepted by BJP leadership.