JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar who is set to be Bihar’s chief minister again is vacuuming up the best talent available in the avowedly secular coalition which he led to a spectacular win in assembly polls this month while trying to piece together his council of ministers.
Kumar, who was elected leader of the Grand Alliance’s joint legislature party, sat down with JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and coalition partner Lalu Prasad to hammer out an agreement a day after he staked claim to form the next government .
He is expected to be sworn in as the chief minister on November 20 after a combine comprising the JD(U), Prasad’s RJD and the Congress won 178 of the 243 seats in Bihar’s assembly, handing a crushing defeat to a BJP-led coalition that was banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity.
Hectic parleys are on as according to constitutional provisions Bihar can only have 36 ministers but there are dozens of contenders from the three parties.
Sources say the RJD could have 16 ministers, the JD(U) 14 and the Congress five going by a “one minister for every five legislators” formula.
Of the 178 seats won by the Grand Alliance, the RJD bagged 80, JD(U) 71 and Congress 27.
The RJD could stake claim to the deputy chief minister’s post, if one is created, with Prasad’s younger son Tejashwi Yadav emerging as the frontrunner though the alliance may face pressure to pick a Muslim or Dalit.
Of the 16 probable ministers from the party, eight will be Yadavs, four Muslims and four from other castes, RJD sources said.
Prasad’s elder son Tej Pratap Yadav, MLA from Mahua, and elder daughter Misa Bharti may also be drafted into the council of ministers.
State RJD chief Ram Chandra Purve, who lost the assembly polls from Parihar, is likely to get a berth through a party quota. Both Misa and Purve could be made members of the legislative council.
Several old faces from the JD(U) like Vijay Kumar Choudhary, Bijendra Prasad Yadav and Narendra Narayan Yadav may be retained. Some ministers from the previous government are likely to be dropped and new faces inducted.
“The focus will be on striking a social balance in the new council of ministers,” said a senior JD(U) leader.
Possible picks from the Congress are state party chief Ashok Choudhary, Sadanand Singh, Vijay Shankar Dubey, Dr Mohammad Jawaid and Ramdeo Rai.