Nitish Kumar says cabinet to be expanded soon
- Nitish Kumar had said earlier that the BJP was still to hand over the list of probable candidates to be included in the cabinet.
The much-awaited cabinet expansion of the two-month-old NDA government in Bihar may take place this week, chief minister Nitish Kumar hinted on Monday.
“It will happen very soon,” he said after emerging from the Patna divisional office where BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain and Vikassheel Insan Party chief Mukesh Sahni filed their nominations for the legislative council bypolls. He, however, clarified that it will not take place on Tuesday.
Kumar, who reached the JD (U) office in the evening, is learnt to have discussed the cabinet expansion with senior party leaders.
At the party office, he clarified that expansion will take place soon. “Talks are still on. Once it is over, it will be expanded,” said Kumar.
Earlier on Sunday evening, BJP state president Dr Sanjay Jaiswal and deputy chief minister Tarkishore Prasad met the CM for close to 40 minutes. Sources said that cabinet expansion was at the top agenda of the meeting.
Sources in the NDA said that the BJP has finally given its nod to the expansion and the same has been communicated to Nitish Kumar, who had said earlier that the BJP was still to hand over the list of probable candidates.
NDA sources said that a maximum of 21 or 22 ministers can now be inducted in the cabinet. It is still unclear whether the expanded cabinet will have equal numbers of ministers from both the BJP and the JD (U) despite the latter being the junior partner in the ruling coalition in Bihar with 43 MLAs as compared to the BJP’s 74.
Sources in BJP and JD (U) hinted that top leaders had “almost agreed on a 50:50 cabinet berth sharing formula on the lines of seat-sharing before 2020 Assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha polls”.
A BJP leader who did not wish to be named said, “Following RJD’s bid to create political instability, the BJP is showing magnanimity in the sharing of cabinet berths with the JD (U).”
A total of 14 ministers were sworn in the new cabinet apart from the Chief Minister in November last, five from the JD (U) and seven from the BJP plus two from smaller allies, HAM (S) and VIP.
With BJP emphasis on new faces and youths, several names are doing the round. Among the young BJP leaders whose names are being discussed in political circles include those of Samrat Chaudhary, Nitish Mishra, Nitin Naveen and Sanjeev Chaurasia.
There is also speculation that former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussain may also be made a minister.
The appointment of senior BJP leaders Nandkishore Yadav, Prem Kumar, Vinod Narayan Jha, and Ramnarayan Mandal to various posts in the Vidhan Sabha committees has led political observers to believe that Nitish Kumar's cabinet will have more youngsters from the BJP's side.
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