31 take oath as ministers in Bihar; Nitish gets home, Tejashwi health

Published on Aug 17, 2022 12:06 AM IST

With Tuesday’s development, the size of the Bihar cabinet rose to 33. Kumar and the RJD’s Tejashwi Prasad Yadav took oath on August 10.

Patna, Aug 16 (ANI): Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Deputy CM Tejashwi during the swearing-in ceremony of the Bihar Cabinet Expansion of Grand Alliance government at Raj Bhawan, in Patna on Tuesday. (ANI Photo) (Pappi Sharma)
Patna, Aug 16 (ANI): Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Deputy CM Tejashwi during the swearing-in ceremony of the Bihar Cabinet Expansion of Grand Alliance government at Raj Bhawan, in Patna on Tuesday. (ANI Photo) (Pappi Sharma)

The newly formed Grand Alliance government in Bihar on Tuesday expanded its cabinet as 31 ministers took oath of office, with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the single largest party in the state assembly, getting the lion’s share of 16 ministers, followed by chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), which got 11 ministerial berths.

With Tuesday’s development, the size of the Bihar cabinet rose to 33. Kumar and the RJD’s Tejashwi Prasad Yadav took oath on August 10.

Two legislators from the Congress, one from former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and one Independent MLA were also inducted in the new council of ministers on Tuesday.

Portfolios were also allocated in the new cabinet headed by CM Nitish Kumar, who retained the all-important home department besides taking responsibilities of the general administration, cabinet secretariat, vigilance and election departments. He will also head “any other departments not assigned to others”, according to an official communication from the CM’s office.

Also Read | Bihar cabinet expansion: Check the list of ministers, their portfolios here

The JD(U) retained most of the portfolios it held during the previous National Democratic Alliance government. The RJD and the Congress have got departments that were previously held by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the past two-and-a-half years.

Back as deputy chief minister after five years, Tejashwi Yadav has got key portfolios such as health, road construction, urban housing and development and rural works.

Yadav’s elder brother and Hassanpur legislator Tej Pratap Yadav has been given environment, forestry and climate change. He headed the health ministry in the previous Mahagathbandhan government from 2015 to 2017.

Also Read | Bihar cabinet expansion: Know the 31 new ministers in Nitish-Tejashwi govt

Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) severed ties with the BJP-led NDA on August 9 and joined hands with the RJD and the Congress to form the Mahagathbandhan government.

In a brief media interaction after the swearing-in of new ministers, CM Kumar said the newly inducted ministers will work for the development and progress of the state. “Bihar will now move more faster on the path of development after the cabinet expansion today,” Kumar said.

While the JD(U) has gone with its tried-and-tested ministerial faces, retaining all who served in the previous NDA government, the RJD’s list of ministers has a mix of former ministers and new entrants in the cabinet, which has a wider caste representation.

The JD(U)’s Vijay Kumar Choudhary, who was the education minister in the NDA government, has been allotted the finance ministry along with commercial taxes and parliamentary affairs departments, while the RJD’s Chandrashekar, an academic by profession, has been given the education portfolio.

Among the other JD(U) ministers are Bijendra Yadav (power and planning, and development), Sanjay Kumar Jha (water resources and information and public relations department), Ashok Choudhary (building construction), Shravan Kumar (rural development), Sheela Kumari (transport), Sunil Kumar (prohibition, excise and registration), Zama Khan (minority affairs), Leshi Singh (food and consumer protection) and Madan Sahni (social welfare).

Among the new entrants in the cabinet from the RJD, Alok Kumar Mehta has been given revenue and land reforms department, and Samir Kumar Mahaseth (legislator from Madhubani constituency and belonging to OBC category) has been given industry portfolio.

Sudhakar Singh, son of state RJD chief Jagadanand Singh, has been entrusted with agriculture, while senior party leaders Alok Kumar Mehta and Lalit Yadav have got revenue and land reforms and public health engineering departments, respectively.

Other RJD ministers are Surendra Prasad Yadav (cooperatives), Ramanand Yadav (mining and geology), Anita Devi (OBC and EBC welfare), Jitendra Kumar Rai (art, culture and youth affairs), Kartikeya Kumar (law), Shahnawaz Alam (disaster management), Shameem Ahmed (sugarcane industry), Surendra Ram (labour resources) and Israel Mansoori (information technology).

“The new cabinet is a reflection of the GA government led by CM Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav’s commitment to give representation to all sections and make all round development of the state,” said Shyam Rajak, RJD’s national general secretary. “It will strengthen social justice ideology and is also in sync with Tejashwi’s mantra that RJD belong to A to Z covering all sections of the society.”

Also Read | Shah, Nadda meet Bihar BJP leaders with eye on polls

The Congress’s Afaque Alam and Murari Gautam have got animal husbandry and fisheries, and panchayati raj departments, respectively.

The HAM’s Santosh Kumar Suman, son of former CM and party founder Jitan Ram Manjhi, retained the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribe welfare department.

Independent legislator Sumit Kumar Singh, who extended his support to CM Nitish Kumar, will retain his science and technology portfolio.

Most of the ministers joined office soon after being administered oath by Governor Phagu Chauhan at a ceremony in the Raj Bhawan.

In terms of composition, the new cabinet comprises 16 ministers from the backward and extremely backward classes, six from SC, six from upper castes besides five Muslim ministers.

While seven RJD ministers — including both sons of party chief Lalu Prasad — are from the Yadav community (OBC), a traditional vote bank of the party, three Muslim legislators have also been inducted in the new council of ministers, in tune with the party’s Muslim-Yadav (M-Y) formula. One legislator belonging to the extremely backward classes and two members from SC have also got ministerial berths from the RJD’s quota.

The RJD has also inducted two upper caste MLAs as ministers — one from the Rajput community, while the other a Bhumihar.

The JD(U)’s list has a combination of backward classes, SC, Muslims and upper castes. The Congress has given representation to one SC and another from the Muslim community.

The Grand Alliance, with an effective strength of 164 legislators including the Independent MLA, is likely to prove its majority in the Bihar assembly on August 24. The three left parties, constituents of the coalition, have not joined the cabinet.

The BJP, meanwhile, said the new cabinet does not have a fair representation from various sections, especially the extremely backward classes. “There is very little representation to EBCs whereas in our government, we had given high representation by making ministers from various sub-groups of the category,” said former deputy CM and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi. “The new cabinet has no social balance as 33% of the total ministerial berths have been grabbed by Muslims and Yadavs.”

Nikhil Anand, state BJP spokesperson, also said EBCs have been deprived of getting a respectable representation in the new cabinet, with the number of ministers from the community coming down as compared to the previous NDA government. “ BJP will fight against this injustice,” he added.

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    A journalist for 21 years, Anirban covers RJD, legislature and government beats. Has extensive experience in covering elections and writes regularly on finance, land reforms, registration, excise and socio-economic issues.

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