Lalu Prasad’s eldest daughter Misa Bharti could find a place in the new Bihar ministry as chief minister-elect Nitish Kumar on Saturday got down to the balancing act of government formation after a resounding mandate for the three-party coalition.
The JD(U)-RJD-Congress’ grand alliance won 178 seats in the 243-member assembly.
Elected leader of the grand alliance’s joint legislature party, caretaker chief minister Nitish Kumar staked claim to form the next government on Saturday evening and is now likely to be sworn in on November 20.
Lalu Prasad’s RJD emerged as the single-biggest party in the new assembly with 80 MLAs and could have as many as 16 ministers including Bharti and his eldest son Tej Pratap Yadav, a first-time legislator.
There are also talks of Lalu staking claim for the post of deputy chief minister for his second son Tejashwi Yadav, also a first-time MLA, though there was no official word on it.
Misa Bharti, however, did not contest the elections after her defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
“Misa was defeated in the LS polls by Ram Kripal Yadav, now a Union minister. She needs to be accommodated in the new government,” said a senior RJD leader.
State RJD chief Ram Chandra Purve, who lost the polls from Parihar, is likely to get a berth from the RJD quota. Both Misa and Purve are likely to be made members of the Bihar legislative council, the upper house of the bicameral legislature.
Kumar on Saturday evening got down to brass tacks with Lalu Prasad and JD-(U) national president Sharad Yadav to identify members who would be a part of his council of ministers.
Sources said hectic parleys are on among leaders of the grand alliance to discuss the modalities for the formation of the new government.
As per Constitutional provisions, Bihar can have a maximum of 36 ministers including the chief minister, as the total number of ministers cannot exceed 15% of the total number of members of the house.
“Initially, it may not be full council of ministers, as some seats may be kept vacant for the time being, keeping in mind possible dissent in the future,” a senior JD(U) leader said.
As per an agreed formula of ‘one minister for every five legislator’, the RJD could have 16 ministers, JD(U) 14 and Congress five ministers from their respective quotas.
Besides the RJD’s 80 seats, the JD(U) won 71 and the Congress 27.
The alliance leadership was also under pressure to appoint a Muslim or a Dalit as deputy chief minister, the sources added.
RJD sources said out of the 16 probable ministers, there will be eight Yadavs, four Muslims and four from other castes.
“The focus will be on striking a social balance in the new council of ministers,” a senior JD(U) leader said.