With the process to form the new cabinet set to gain momentum in Bihar, all eyes are on chief minister Nitish Kumar to see if, much like in 2005 and 2010, he will opt for a deputy CM this time.
Sources claimed that in case Kumar and his alliance partner, Rashtriya Janta Dal chief Lalu Prasad, arrive at a consensus on that post, senior RJD legislator and the party’s Muslim face, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, may emerge as a front runner.
While Prasad’s sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi also won in the polls, Siddiqui has already built a good working equation with Kumar.
“That may come as an added advantage apart from his being a prominent Muslim face,” said a source close to Kumar.
Siddiqui is one of the 12 Muslim MLAs elected to assembly on RJD symbol.
A section of the RJD has not ruled out the party chief’s oldest daughter Misa Bharti’s candidature. Bharti, who lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, is also not a legislator. She could, however, become a member of the legislative council from the seat vacated by Lalu’s personal assistant Bhola Yadav, now an MLA, RJD sources said.
Lalu, on his part, has tried to put a lid on the speculation. He said, “My aim was to ensure Nitish becomes the chief minister. My job is over. It is now up to Nitish to take a call on this issue. I have given my chhota bhai (younger brother) a free hand to choose his ministry.”
Invitation for non-BJP chief ministers
Sources close to Kumar told HT that he may invite all non-BJP CMs for his swearing-in ceremony. Kumar has already spoken to Tarun Gogoi in Assam, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.
“Kumar has asked his staff to send invitations to the CMs after he formally resigns to take over charge again,” said a source.
Sources in New Delhi, however, claimed that Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik are unlikely to come.