Following the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar's Mahagathbandhan government's Cabinet expansion on Tuesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that the Cabinet reflected "social imbalance" and patronage to those with criminal records.
Nitish last week severed ties with the BJP and joined the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD)-led bloc to form the Mahagathbandhan government. Besides Nitish's Janta Dal (United) and RJD, the Congress, Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM), and Left parties are part of the alliance.
On the new Cabinet, senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi said that "two communities" had grabbed "more than 33 per cent" of berths in the 33-strong cabinet. It was a reference to Yadavs and Muslims, largely seen as loyal to the RJD. The two social groups together have 13 cabinet berths, including those from the JD(U) and the Congress.
Of the 31 ministers sworn in on Tuesday, the RJD had the lion's share of Cabinet berths at 16. Besides RJD's 16 ministers, 11 ministers are from JD(U), two are from Congress, one is from HAM, and one is an Independent lawmaker.
Modi also referred to serious criminal cases against new inductees like Lalit Yadav, Surendra Yadav, Ramanand Yadav, and Kartikeya Singh. He also pointed out that the new Cabinet had "zero representation" from among Telis and upper caste Kayasthas while the number of Rajputs has gone down compared with the previous government of which BJP was a part.
"I wonder what are Nitish Kumar's compulsions behind agreeing to such social imbalance and criminalisation," said Modi.
In what may be indicative of the future strategy, more than one BJP leader railed against "marginalisation" of 'ati pichhra' —extremely backward classes (EBCs)— in the new dispensation.
While Modi underscored that Renu Devi, an EBC, was made Deputy CM by the BJP, no minister from the sizeable but disorganised social group was considered for the top job this time.
State BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal claimed in a Facebook post that the number of EBCs in the cabinet has dropped from six to only three.
BJP OBC Morcha national general secretary Nikhil Anand alleged that "marginalisation" of the EBCs was a "betrayal" on part of Nitish Kumar who "won over this social segment, riding on BJP's back".
"Nitish and Tejashwi seem to have declared a revolt (bagavat) against the EBCs. The BJP will not allow this injustice", he added.
As the RJD dominates the Cabinet, the BJP also alleged that it's Tejashwi Prasad Yadav's Cabinet and not Nitish Kumar's. BJP national spokesman Sanjay Mayukh said, "This is not a Cabinet headed by Nitish Kumar. It bears the imprint of Tejashwi Yadav. We will expose the inherent contradictions of this opportunistic alliance."
(With PTI inputs)