Bihar cabinet expansion: RJD is ultimate gainer as it gets 17 berths, compared to JD(U)'s 11


PATNA: 31 legislators, including three women, were on Tuesday took oath as cabinet ministers in the first expansion of the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance government in Bihar.
Though CM Nitish Kumar retained the all-important home department which will give him direct control over the state police and prisons; the RJD turns out the ultimate gainer as Lalu Prasad-led party got 17 cabinet berths, more than 50% of total 32 berths (except of the CM), compared to JD(U) only 11 berths, Congress (two) and one each to the HAM-S’ Santosh Kumar Suman and Independent Sumit Kumar Singh.
It seems the portfolio sharing between Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Lalu’s RJD has been executed on the basis of the previous NDA government. While RJD allotted 17 cabinet berths which were given to the BJP in the previous government, the JD(U) retained 11 berths. HAM-S was given a single birth like the previous government. The new entrant Congress was allotted two berths including one of the VIP’s Mukesh Sahni.
Three cabinet berths have been kept vacant apparently to lure legislators from the rival’s camp or accommodate the Left parties’ lawmakers if they in future wish to join the seven-party coalition government. As per the constitutional provision, Bihar can have a total of 35 cabinet ministers except the CM. After the oath by 31 legislators on Tuesday, only 32 cabinet berths could be occupied. Three are still vacant.
While Nitish also kept with himself key portfolios like general administration, cabinet secretariat, election and “any other departments not assigned to others” just like the previous government, Tejashwi was allotted vital departments like health, road construction, rural works and urban development which have huge budgetary allocations.
Tejashwi’s elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav has this time been given the environment, forest and climate change department which controls the services of Indian Forest Service, besides all forests and wildlife sanctuaries. In the 2015 grand alliance government, Tej was also holding the health portfolio which this time has been allotted to his younger brother.
Caste-wise, maximum eight Yadava have found place in the new cabinet, followed by five Muslims, reviving the much talked about ‘M-Y’ equation of Lalu Prasad. The new cabinet has six each ministerS from the upper castes and the scheduled castes, two each from Kurmi and Kushwaha. Samir Mahaseth is the only representative from the Vaishya (business) communities. The rest three (Sheela Kumari, Anita Devi and Madan Sahni) hail from the extremely backward castes (EBCs).
Pointing out alleged ‘social imbalance’ in the new cabinet, senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday said that that only two communities (Muslims and Yadava) grabbed “more than 33%” of the cabinet berths, while several castes like Kanu, Teli, Kalwar and Kayasth have no representation. Sushil Modi also raised questions over the “marginalization” of the EBCs in the new cabinet. “Renu Devi, an EBC, was made the deputy CM by the BJP in the previous government, no minister from the sizable EBC group was considered for the job of deputy CM this time,” Sushil Modi told TOI.
While JD(U) retained all its 11 cabinet ministers of the previous NDA government, the RJD brought 10 new faces in the new cabinet. The RJD’s 10 legislators who became ministers for the first time are Samir Kumar Mahaseth (Industries), Ramanand Yadav (mines & geology), Kumar Sarvajeet (Tourism), Jitendra Kumar Rai (art, culture and youth affairs), Sudhakar Singh (agriculture), Kartik Kumar (Law), Shamim Ahmad (sugarcane industries), Md Shahnawaz (disaster management), Surendra Ram (labour resources) and Md Israel Mansoori (information technology).
Congress’ both ministers – Afaquae Alam (Animal and fisheries resources) and Murari Prasad Gautam (Panchayati Raj) have become the ministers for the first time. Thus, this cabinet has a total 12 first timers.
Of total 33 ministers including the CM, five – Nitish, Ashok Choudhary, Sanjay Jha, Santosh Suman and Kartik Kumar- are the members of the state legislative council, while the rest 28 ministers are the members of the state legislative assembly.





Source link