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The Hindu
The Hindu
Amarnath Tewary

31 Ministers take oath in Bihar Cabinet expansion

The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar Cabinet on Tuesday expanded with 31 Ministers — 16 from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), 11 from the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), two from Congress, one from the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), and one Independent — administered their oaths by Governor Phagu Chouhan.

Most of the JD(U)‘s Ministers, including Bijendra Yadav, Ashok Choudhury, Sanjay Jha, Vijay Kumar Choudhury, Shrawan Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Lesi Singh, Sheela Kumari, Mohd Zama Khan and Madan Sahni of the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government were retained in the Cabinet, while seven legislators from the RJD’s Yadav community became Ministers.

The RJD has 16 Ministers, including party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s elder son Tej Pratap Yadav. Five Ministers in the new Cabinet are from Muslim community while three are women.

The BJP slammed the Cabinet, saying it lacked “social equation”, and that several MLAs with a “criminal background” had become Ministers.

On August 10, Mr. Kumar had taken oath as Chief Minister with Mr. Tejashwi Yadav as his Deputy Chief Minister in the Cabinet. The portfolios of new Ministers too were allocated on Tuesday, with Mr. Kumar keeping Home, General Administration, Cabinet Secretariat, Election, and all the departments that have not been allocated, while Mr. Tejashwi Yadav got Health, Road Construction, and Urban Development and Housing. Mr. Tej Pratap Yadav was allocated the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department.

Two Congress legislators — Afaque Alam from the minority community, and Murari Lal Gautam from the Scheduled Caste community — were inducted into the Cabinet as Minister of Animal and Fisheries Resources, and of Panchayati Raj, respectively. Santosh Manjhi from the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) has been made Minister of SC/ST Welfare. Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh has been given charge as Minister of Science and Technology. Mr. Singh and Mr. Manjhi were both Ministers in the previous NDA government as well.

Along with Mr. Kumar and Mr. Tejashwi Yadav, the Bihar Cabinet has 33 Ministers, which could go up to 36 Ministers, with the alliance claiming a strength of 243 MLAs. The new mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) government is likely to prove its majority in the State Assembly on August 24.

The BJP slammed the expansion. “ Sirf do varg ke logon ko 33% jagan de di gayee …aur aapradhik chhavi ke logon ki bharmar hai (people of only two classes were given 33% place in the Cabinet …and, there are several people with a criminal profile),” senior State BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sushil Kumar Modi said. While counting the names of Surendra Yadav, Ramanand Yadav, Lalit Yadav and Kartikeya Singh among Ministers with a “criminal background”, Mr. Modi asked Mr. Kumar “under which compulsion” had he made them Ministers in his Cabinet.

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