Bihar CM Nitish Kumar expands Cabinet, 17 new ministers inducted today
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar expanded his Cabinet on Tuesday ahead of the Budget session with the induction of 17 new ministers. This takes the total number of ministers in the state Cabinet to 30, with six more berths remaining vacant.
Governor Phagu Chouhan administered the oath of office to the new ministers – nine from the BJP and eight from the JD(U) – at a function at the Raj Bhavan.
Former Union minister and national spokesperson of the BJP Shahnawaz Hussain, who was recently elected to the legislative council, was the first to take oath. He was followed by JD(U)’s Shravan Kumar and Madan Sahni.
Apart from the chief minister, others gracing the occasion included deputy CMs Tar Kishore Prasad and Renu Devi, Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha, legislative council chairman Avadhesh Narayan Singh, and Rajya Sabha member Sushil Kumar Modi. Leader of the Opposition Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav could not make it as he is reportedly in Delhi.
What is significant about the expansion is that several new faces, especially from the BJP, have found their way in the Cabinet. Leaders like Prem Kumar and Nand Kishore Yadav, who were part of all previous NDA governments, have not found a place this time, while Sushil Kumar Modi has been sent to the Rajya Sabha. From the last Cabinet, BJP has retained only two ministers this time – Mangal Pandey and Pramod Kumar. On the other hand, JD(U) has retained several old guards.
JD(U) has accommodated two new faces, Sumit Singh, who won from Chakai as an independent candidate and extended support, and Jama Khan, who won on the BSP ticket from Chainpur but recently joined the party. Khan is the lone Muslim face from the JD(U) in the Cabinet, while Singh is the youngest. The party has also given an opportunity to first-time MLAs --former DG Sunil Kumar and Jayant Raj.
Bihar BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal said the Cabinet expansion was done with a view to give pace to Bihar’s development, in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expectations and plans for the eastern region. “Talent has been given preference and social and regional balance have been kept in mind. Generational change is quite natural,” he added.
BJP insiders admit the gradual generational shift in the party, with more room for new and younger leaders, started soon after the Lok Sabha election with the surprise elevation of Dr Sanjay Jaiswal as the Bihar party president.
After the expansion, all eyes will now be on the nomination on 12 seats of the state legislative council from the Governor’s quota, which has remained vacant since May 2020. BJP has also inducted former MP Janak Ram in the Cabinet. Ram is not a member of any House and would need to be accommodated in the council. JD(U)’s Ashok Choudhary is not a member of any House.