‘Never demanded’: Tejashwi rules out speculations about Bihar Cabinet expansion
Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav said his party RJD has never demanded more cabinet berths and added that he is not aware if the Congress has done so
Amid speculation about a Cabinet expansion in Bihar, deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav on Thursday ruled out such a move saying that his party Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has never demanded more Cabinet berths and there was no discussion on it in the Grand Alliance (GA ).
Last month during his ongoing Samadhan Yatra, chief minister Nitish Kumar had hinted that the seats left vacant due to the resignation of two RJD ministers and space for more Congress ministers could be filled after he completes his visits. The Congress has been demanding more representation in the Cabinet. Kumar did not speak about induction of any leader from his party Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in the Cabinet. However, JD(U) parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha has expressed his keenness to join the Cabinet.
However, speaking to media persons in Samastipur, Tejashwi said, “There is no discussion on Cabinet expansion in the GA. I fail to understand how things start moving around. We have never demanded more cabinet berths. I am not aware if Congress has done so.”
In August 2022, when the GA government was formed in Bihar, the RJD being the largest party got 16 berths in the Nitish Kumar Cabinet, while the JD-U got 11, the Congress two. One seat each was given to the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and an independent.
However, two of the RJD ministers - Karthikey Kumar and Sudhakar Singh - resigned later. The Left parties did not join the Cabinet but extended support from outside.
A senior RJD leader, on the condition of anonymity, said that the Cabinet expansion would not happen as it could lead to further bickering among those left out. “Everyone cannot be made a minister, as there is a limit to it. First the RJD has to take a call on it as it is the largest party,” he added.
Bihar can have a maximum of 36 ministers, including the chief minister and the deputy chief minister. It has 29 at present, down from 31 at the beginning. The strength of the council of ministers in a state cannot exceed 15% of the strength of the Legislative Assembly.
A senior JD-U leader said it would be good for the party to put any plan for cabinet expansion on hold, at least for the time being and till all the constituents of the GA reach a consensus.
Bihar Congress president Akhilesh Prasad Singh had last month said that there could be expansion of the state cabinet after the Samadhan yatra to give higher representation to the party.
Social analyst NK Choudhary said that Nitish Kumar would weigh his options before going in for any expansion of the cabinet. “What Tejashwi has said may be the mind of Nitish Kumar to silence the hopefuls. There are always many aspirants for cabinet berth and those who don’t get it turn disappointed or even rebellious. It is smart to put the exercise on hold to keep the aspirants interested. After the budget session, there may be bigger developments in the offing and no party is ready to disclose its cards at this stage in Bihar’s fluid politics,” he added.