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BJP has a tough task ahead as Nitish shapes up his new govt in Bihar

Apart from most of 58 sitting NDA MLAs, many MLCs are eyeing 14 ministerial berths on offer to the BJP-led alliance, including Lok Janshakti Party, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2017 22:01 IST
Binod Dubey
Binod Dubey
Hindustan Times, Patna
Nitish Kumar resigns,Nitish Kumar Narendra Modi,Sushil Kumar Modi
Among their first tasks in the new government, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi will decide on who makes up the rest of the cabinet.(Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party faces a “stupendous” task in deciding the list of ministers for Bihar, where it will need to balance factors of political partnerships, caste, religion and even gender in its distribution of portfolios.

The BJP is the dominant party in the National Democratic Alliance that came to power after Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s dramatic decision on Wednesday to dump his old allies Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress.

Immediately after the oath-taking ceremony in Raj Bhawan on Thursday, where Nitish Kumar took the oath as chief minister and Sushil Kumar Modi as deputy chief minister, central BJP observers JP Nadda and Anil Jain huddled in the state guest house with Modi, Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai and general secretary, organisation, Nagendra Ji to select probable candidates for ministerial berths.

Party insiders said the central observers would prepare a preliminary list of ministers in consultation with the members of the BJP legislature party before it names are finally be vetted by party’s central leadership led by party chief Amit Shah.

“Though the list would be ready by Friday morning, it would formally be declared after CM Nitish Kumar seeks vote of confidence on July 28,” the sources said.

BJP has been allotted 14 ministerial berths in which it has to also accommodate members of its NDA partners – Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).

The most likely ministerial faces from the BJP are Prem Kumar, Nand Kishore Yadav, Ram Chandra Sahni and Mangal Pandey. The first three served as ministers in the NDA government led by Nitish Kumar, and Pandey was then the BJP’s state president.

A decision on Pandey is the slightly complicated one since he has been given the responsibility of being in-charge of party affairs in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh.

If Pandey does not find a berth in the cabinet, Vinod Narayan Jha — another prominent leader and also a member of legislative council — may be selected as the Brahmin face in the government.

From the Kayasthas, seen as mainstay support base of the party, the BJP leadership may select Arun Kumar Sinha or Nitin Naveen, who represent Kumhrar and Bankipur constituencies in Patna district. While Sinha was party’s chief whip in the last assembly, Naveen is a young face and heads the youth wing of the BJP in Bihar.

Among women, the names of Asha Sinha (Danapur) and Bhagirathi Devi (Ram Nagar) have emerged prominently, sources said.

While the saffron party has no Muslim legislator, it may opt for its prominent Muslim face Jamshaid Ashraf as a minister in the Nitish cabinet. The BJP leadership has already given him the responsibility to wean away Muslims from the RJD and the Congress.

Ashraf had also served as minister in the NDA government in Bihar.

The other probable candidates from the BJP quota include former chairman in the Bihar legislative council Avdesh Narayan Singh, Anil Kumar (Hisua), Vijay Sinha (LakhsSarai), Vyas Deo Prasad (Siwan), Ram Narayan Mandal (Banka) and Sanjay Saraogi (Darbhanga).

Sources said former chief minister and HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi may also be given a ministerial portfolio. “Manjhi has expressed his desire to join the ministry,” they said.

One each from the LJP and the RLSP may also be accommodated in the cabinet.

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 20:20 IST