‘No proposal from BJP on ministers’: Nitish Kumar on cabinet expansion
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said that he has not received any proposal for the induction of new ministers from the BJP, adding that the cabinet expansion would be discussed whenever the proposal comes from the senior ally in the NDA.
“We have not received any proposal of inducting new ministers from the BJP so far. Whenever it comes, the matter would be discussed and then a reshuffle would be done,” CM Kumar said to reporters after supervising the expansion project of a new airport at Bihta.
There has been a buzz in political circles that the cabinet expansion had got delayed because of internal factors within the coalition with the BJP becoming the senior partner on the back of more MLAs. The JD(U) having 43 MLAs is now a junior ally in the NDA coalition.
The CM’s statement today has given credence to the perception that the two big allies in the NDA government would only go for the next reshuffle only after the number of new ministers from each of the alliance partners is decided and the distribution of the portfolios is thrashed out.
However, many feel, the cabinet expansion exercise getting delayed would impact governance and decision making process in administrative set up as a large number of departments at present are being headed by a single minister. Sources said many of the ministers are only doing routine jobs, shying away from taking big decisions in anticipation of a cabinet expansion.
Right now, the state cabinet has only 14 ministers, including the chief minister, with the scope of induction of 21-22 ministers. The maximum number of ministers allowed in the state cabinet is 36. In the previous NDA government, there were 33 ministers with the JD(U) having more ministers than the BJP based on the numerical strength of the two parties in the lower house.
There are chances the JD(U), having four ministers, could increase its strength to maximum 14, while the BJP, having seven ministers, could increase its strength of ministers to 18-20. The possibility of two smaller allies, Hindustani Awam Morcha( Secular) and Vikassheel Insaan Party ( VIP) getting one more ministerial berths each would depend on whether the JD(U) and BJP are agreeable to the proposition. At present, VIP and HAM(S) have one minister from each side.
Meanwhile, BJP’s state spokesperson Sanjay Singh Tiger said the cabinet expansion would take place at an opportune time emphasising that the CM had rightly inferred that the inductions of new ministers would be done through discussions among allies.
“It is a prerogative of the CM to take a call on cabinet expansion. It is pertinent the exercise would be done at an opportune time through consultations among partners. There is no dispute or friction of any sort among the allies in the NDA,” he said.