LALOO Prasad Yadav first promised a Cabinet expansion in 1995 to keep his flock together. It was finally effected when wife Rabri Devi took over as the new chief minister last fortnight. Well-placed sources said that as more and more legislators clamoured for ministerial berths, it was becoming clear that even Laloo with all his canny ways might have to give in to some of the demands. But political circles in Bihar claim they are appalled by the choice of some of the members.
Here's a sampling of a few: Raghavendra Pratap Singh, MLA from Bhoj-pur, was charged three years ago with raping the wife of a circle officer who was reportedly beaten up severely by Singh. Another minister, Ram Vichar Rai, has been accused of being involved in the hanging of two persons from a tree in his constituency.
Yet another cabinet member, Gajendra Prasad Singh, a contractor, faces charges of corruption while Srinarain Yadav was once named in a sex scandal. His son is incidentally married to Union Cabinet minister Kanti Singh's daughter. Minister of state Surendra Yadav is better known as the 'terror' of Gaya while Dalip Singh, another minister of state, is notorious in the Mokama area. During a raid two years ago at his official Patna residence, a huge cache of illegal and sophisticated arms was recovered.
Another leading light of the Rabri Devi cabinet is Sarfaraz Ahmed, whose exploits in his native Araria has even put father Taslimuddin in the shade.
Rabri Devi's choice of women members needs mention too. One newly-inducted member, Abbo Devi, for instance, is regarded as the fast-emerging don of the Dhanbad coal mafia where she has reportedly grabbed some flats owned by Tisco.
She hit the headlines recently when she entered a local police station and assaulted the officer in charge for daring to arrest her bodyguard.
Another minister of state, Udit Rai, is a major transporter and owns about three dozen buses with his name emblazoned across the buses: "Udit Rai vidhayak ka bus (bus owned by Udit Rai, legislator)". In a state where highway robberies are frequent, the legend is a reminder that his fleet of buses shouldn't be touched. With such passengers on board, will Rabri Devi's jumbo face a hijack?