Bihar govt to expand cabinet today, focus on RJD, JD(U) vote base
The Kumar-led JD(U) is likely to retain several ministers who were appointed during the NDA government formed with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said a functionary.
The Bihar cabinet expansion is scheduled to be held on August 16 with focus on a larger representation for backward classes and minorities, in line with the vote base of the two major constituents of the Grand Alliance — the Rashtriya Janata Dal ( RJD) and Janata Dal (United) — functionaries familiar with the matter said.
Raj Bhawan officials privy to developments confirmed that the cabinet expansion was slotted for August 16.
One of the functionaries privy to developments said deliberations on new ministers and their portfolios are almost concluded. Deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav met chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday evening in connection with the matter, said the functionary, asking not to be named.
“The cabinet size will be below 30. The rest of the vacancies would be filled up at a later date, during another cabinet expansion,” a senior RJD leader said, wishing not to be quoted. The maximum number of ministers that the Bihar cabinet can accommodate, according to the legislative assembly strength of 243, is 36.
The Kumar-led JD(U) is likely to retain several ministers who were appointed during the NDA government formed with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the functionary mentioned above.
On the other hand, the RJD is also said to have finalised its list of ministers by giving fair representation to some of the former ministers who served in the last GA government comprising RJD-JD(U) and Congress from November 2015 to July 2017. There will be three to four first time ministers from the RJD quota, said a second functionary, asking not to be named.
The present GA government was formed after JD(U)’s realignment with an RJD-led coalition on August 10. The constituents comprise JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI-ML( liberation), CPI, CPI (Marxist) and HAM (Secular).
Only two ministers are likely to be inducted from the Congress as of now, said the second functionary.
“I am not aware of the names of new ministers. It will be finalised by the central leadership,” said Congress’s Bihar in-charge, Bhakta Charan Das, while talking to reporters at party’s state office on Monday.
At least one Independent MLA and one legislator from HAM(S) are also slated for cabinet berths, the functionary added.
An RJD functionary said the party brass picked its ministerial nominees keeping in mind the voter base, prominently among the Yadavs in the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) community. The party is also focusing on the Kushwahas, the economically-backward classes, SCs, Muslims as well as the upper castes, said the functionary.
The list of possible nominees includes the RJD’s chief elder son and former minister, Tej Pratap Yadav; former minister Surendra Yadav; senior leaders Ramanand Yadav, Lalit Yadav, Bhai Virendra, Alok Mehta, Anita Devi, Kumar Sarabjit, Kartik Kumar, Sudhakar Singh, Sunil Singh, MLC, Rahul Tiwary, Ahktarul Islam Shaheen, former AIMIM legislator Shahnawaj Alam and Sameer Kumar Mahaseth.
On the other hand, the JD(U)’s ministerial hopefuls include former ministers Vijay Kumar Choudhary, Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Sanjay Kumar Jha, Leshi Singh, Jayant Raj, Jama Khan, Ashok Choudhary and Sunil Kumar.