Sunday, May 22, 2022

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar Expands His Cabinet But Keeps Allies BJP, LJP Out

The newly appointed ministers are Ashok Choudhary, Shyam Rajak, Narendra Narayan Yadav, Sanjay Jha, Ramsewak Singh, Lakshmeshwar Rai Neeraj Kumar and Bima Bharti.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar Expands His Cabinet But Keeps Allies BJP, LJP Out
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi attends meeting of education department at Samvad, in Patna. (PTI photo)

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday expanded his cabinet, inducting eight new faces, all from Janata Dal (United).

After the induction of eight new members, Kumar said the BJP was offered a berth but the saffron party was not very keen on taking it.

The other NDA constituent, Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Jan Shakti party, was also left out of the expansion plan.

Deputy Chief Minister and BJP's senior leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the party was offered a ministerial berth, but it opted out of it for now.

"Nitish Kumar has offered BJP to fill the vacant ministerial seat. The BJP decided to fill it in the future," the Deputy chief minister tweeted.

The new ministers - Narendra Narayan Yadav, Shyam Rajak, Ashok Choudhary, Bima Bharti, Sanjay Jha, Ram Sewak Singh, Niraj Kumar and Lakshmeshwar Rai - were administered the oath of office and secrecy at a function at the Raj Bhavan here by Governor Lalji Tandon.

Kumar said the vacancies were majorly created by JD(U) ministers, who resigned from their posts for various reasons.

Tension seems to have been brewing between the alliance partners over the allotment of berth in the Narendra Modi cabinet, although Kumar asserted that there was "no unease" between the partners.

The JD(U), he had said, decided against joining the Modi ministry as allies were not given "proportional representation" in the cabinet.

Three seats in the Nitish Kumar cabinet fell vacant following the election of JD(U) ministers to the Lok Sabha.

The three ministers who were elected to the Lower House of Parliament included Water Resources Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, Disaster Management Minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav and LJP's Bihar unit chief and Animal and Fisheries Resources Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras.

One post fell vacant last year after Manju Verma resigned as Social Welfare Minister in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home case.

Among those who attended Sunday's swearing-in ceremony were Sushil Kumar Modi, Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary, RJD Bihar unit president Ram Chandra Purbey and several ministers of the Nitish Kumar government.

This is the second time in two years when Nitish Kumar expanded his cabinet.

On July 29, 2017, he has inducted 27 ministers from all three NDA constituents, the JD(U), the BJP and the LJP.

(With inputs from PTI)