Former chief minister Nitish Kumar’s triumphant return to the top office as he takes oath as chief minister on Sunday promises to be the beginning, rather than the end, of a political churn in Bihar.
The ‘who is where’ situation, vis-à-vis the 233 sitting MLAs in the Bihar House, as also of another eight who stand disqualified, will change substantively in the run up to the assembly polls due later this year.
A Manjhi camp leader said he expected the seeds of the first trigger for a realignment of political forces in the coming months to be planted at Nitish’s swearing in on Sunday evening when it would become clear who all had been included in his cabinet.
Pointing out two main reasons for the majority backing Nitish, the leader said, “One was the disqualification risk facing the MLAs who defied the official line while the other was the potential for high rewards, especially ministerial berths.”
Nitish’s opponents are now counting upon his inability to satiate the wishlist of ruling party MLAs to set off a state of drift among those who end up disappointed.
“As Manjhi had pointed out, 34 legislators can be inducted as ministers. But the MLAs hoping for ministerial berths are more than twice that number,” said a leader.
There is speculation that Manjhi may announce the launch of a new party.
A top BJP leader said Manjhi was “favourably inclined” towards the party but nothing was decided about the exact nature of the ties.
Ten new ministers may be inducted
With Nitish taking oath on Sunday, there is speculation that 10 new ministers may join his cabinet. His allies — RJD, Congress and CPI are yet to take a decision on joining the government. “Initially, some ministers from Manjhi’s cabinet will be part of the new government…after the trust vote, the cabinet will expand where some old faces may be dropped for new faces,” said a JD(U) leader.