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Bihar Cabinet: Nitish likely to retain Home, keep most ministers; RJD may get Finance & Health

Tejashwi’s party may receive 15 berths, JD(U) 12, and Cong two; insiders say RJD choices will reflect attempt to incorporate leaders other than Yadavs and Muslims.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav at a function after paying tributes at Shaheed Smarak, in Patna. (PTI)

The Bihar Cabinet expansion is likely to take place on Tuesday, with the Janata Dal (United) of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar likely to retain most of its ministers, barring a name or two, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) appointments reflecting an attempt to move beyond the party’s Muslim-Yadav (MY) core constituency and match its “A to Z” slogan on the politics of assimilation.

Sources in the RJD said the party might get 15 ministers, ally Congress two ministerial berths, and the JD(U) 12 ministers. The Nitish Kumar-led party may also seek a ministerial berth for Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh from Chakai in Jamui district who was the science and technology minister in the previous Cabinet. The Bihar government can have a total of 36 ministers.

The JD(U) is likely to keep the portfolios of Home (it was with Nitish in the previous administration), Vigilance, Education, Building Construction, Minority Affairs, Social Welfare, and Water Resources and the RJD may get departments such as Finance, Commercial Taxes, Health, Road Construction, Disaster Management, and Environment and Forest. The RJD-JD(U) agreement on ministries is likely to be similar to the one Nitish had with the BJP.

The list of probable ministers from the RJD includes Tej Pratap Yadav, Surendra Yadav, Ramanand Yadav, Bhai Virendra, Lalit Yadav, Anita Devi, Kumar Sarvjeet, Alok Mehta, Mohammed Shamim, Shahnawaz Alam, Sudhakar Singh, and Samir Mahaseth or Sanjay Gupta. Though there is likely to be a dominant Yadav presence in the Cabinet from the RJD quota, the party is also trying to accommodate non-Yadav Other Backward Class (OBC) leaders and Dalits in the ministerial council.

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JD(U) insiders said Sanjay Jha, the water resources minister in the previous Cabinet, was openly named in a party meeting as one of the four persons responsible for taking Nitish back to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in 2017. At present “though there is still no clarity if Jha will be retained, what can go in his favour is the key role he played in bringing Ganga water to Nalanda and Gaya”, said a JD(U) source. Sheela Mandal may be dropped from the council of ministers as she is believed to be in former party leader RCP Singh’s camp.

Sources in the Congress said its state president MM Jha and its Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Ajit Sharma were likely to miss out as the party was looking to give a berth each to a Scheduled Caste leader and a Muslim functionary, with Rajesh Ram and Shakeel Ahmad Khan the probable ministers. The Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) may get one department, with party chief and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s son Santosh Kumar Suman retaining his place in the ministerial council.

The CPI and the CPI(ML) are part of the “Mahagathbandan (Grand Alliance)” but have decided to extend outside support to the Nitish administration. The two parties have requested the CM for a common minimum programme.

First published on: 14-08-2022 at 10:13:57 pm
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