NEW DELHI: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar expanded his new cabinet on Tuesday by inducting 31 new ministers, including a huge contingent of 16 from key ally RJD, taking care to give due representation to all sections of society, including minorities.
Of the council of ministers, 11 are from chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), two from Congress and one from ex-CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM, besides an Independent.
Here are the key takeaways from today’s cabinet expansion …
RJD gets more berths
In keeping with its larger representation in the assembly, the RJD has 17 members in the cabinet, including deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav and his brother Tej Pratap Yadav. The JD(U) has 11 members, excluding the CM. Congress has two members while the HAM-S has one. Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh also finds a place. The cabinet can have 36 members, including the CM.
JD(U) keeps plum portfolios
CM Nitish Kumar has reposed faith in his ministers from the earlier government, retaining most of their departments as well. The exception was education, which went to the RJD. The JD(U) kept home, finance, vigilance and rural affairs while the RJD got health, revenue, environment and road construction. With the CM retaining home, which controls the police, and the RJD’s reputation for creating law and order problems, this could turn out to be prickly issue if RJD leaders and workers step out of line.
RJD has understandably given seven berths to Yadavs. The number of Muslims in the cabinet has gone up to five from two in the previous government, with three of them belonging to the RJD. As part of its outreach to upper castes, the RJD also named a Bhumihar and a Rajput each. Cong selected a Dalit and a Muslim from its quota.
The new cabinet has three women ministers — Leshi Singh, Sheila Kumar and Anita Devi, the same as the previous government. Singh and Kumar are from the RJD while Devi belongs to JD(U).
Thirteen members of the cabinet, including Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, have multiple cases pending against them, including criminal matters. JD(U)’s Leshi Singh, Madan Sahni and Mohd Zama Khan are among those facing cases.
The BJP held a meeting of its Bihar core committee in New Delhi to discuss the way forward in the state. It was attended by party chief J P Nadda, Union home minister Amit Shah and senior Bihar leaders Sushil Kumar Modi, Ashwini Choubey, Giriraj Singh and Shahnawaz Hussain among others. On the agenda was talks on a new state unit chief, as also leaders of opposition in the state assembly and council, besides the strategy to be adopted to be an effective opposition.