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Marking a ‘ceasefire’ between JD(U), BJP, Nitish set to rejig Cabinet soon

Despite the BJP being the senior alliance partner, it has let Nitish to head their NDA government since the coalition returned to power after winning the Assembly polls in November 2020.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: April 29, 2022 6:06:38 am
A BJP source said that there is little chance of the party defying Nitish Kumar's leadership even though he may face indirect challenge. (Express file)

After a long standoff in Bihar between the ruling alliance partners, the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), marked with snipings and posturings, the stage is set for Chief Minister and JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar to shuffle his Cabinet soon, which will signal a “ceasefire” between the two allies.

Despite the BJP being the senior alliance partner, it has let Nitish to head their NDA government since the coalition returned to power after winning the Assembly polls in November 2020.

Senior Bihar BJP leaders are scheduled to hold a meeting with their central leaders in New Delhi on Friday to deliberate on the JD(U)-BJP ministry expansion, which is likely to see the induction of five-six new ministers from both the allies.

The third constituent party of the NDA, ex-CM Jitan Ram Majhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) may not get any ministerial berth.

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While the BJP is likely to drop some of its “non-performing” ministers in the Cabinet rejig, it would bring new ministerial faces in a bid to get the party’s social combination right.

As the saffron party lost the recent Bochahan Assembly bypoll because a big chunk of EBC Sahani and upper caste Bhumihar voters did not support the party, it may induct a minister from the Sahani (Mallah) community. A senior

BJP leader Arjun Sahani’s name has been doing the round for this slot.

The state’s political circles have been abuzz for some time about the possibility of the BJP projecting Ujiyarpur MP and Union minister of state for home, Nityanand Rai, a Yadav leader, as its face in the 2025 Assembly polls, the party might not take the risk of doing it by making him the deputy CM at this stage as it could upset its support base involving non-Yadav OBCs, upper castes and Dalits. There has however been speculation about the party dropping one of its two deputy CMs in the upcoming exercise.

“The party can still keep voters guessing on its leadership face and can focus on Cabinet reshuffle….Till 2024 (Lok Sabha polls), there is little chance of the party defying Nitish Kumar’s leadership even though he may face indirect challenge”, said a BJP source.

With Rajya Sabha MP and former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi reposing his faith in Nitish’s leadership and calling the buzz about a change of guard in the government as “thethrology (repeated nonsense)”, the latter’s position as the CM may well be cemented.

The JD(U) may also induct some of its new faces into the ministry, including a leader from the Bhumihar community. The BJP rebel and Independent MLC Sachchidanand Rai might be projecting his proximity to the JD(U) leadership, but his ministerial candidature could face resistance as there are other Bhumihar contenders in the party waiting in the wings too.

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