Bihar: 31 MLAs sworn in as Cabinet ministers, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar keeps home ministry
This includes 16 MLAs of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, 11 of the Janata Dal (United) and two from the Congress.
Thirty-one MLAs of parties that are part of the Grand Alliance in Bihar took oath as ministers on Tuesday morning as part of the Nitish Kumar led-Cabinet, NDTV reported. The oath was administered by Governor Phagu Chauhan at the Raj Bhavan in Patna.
Sixteen MLAs of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, 11 from the Janata Dal (United), two from the Congress, one MLA of the Jitin Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha and Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh were sworn in, according to NDTV.
The chief minister will also hold five other portfolios, including the home and general administration departments. His deputy Tejashwi Yadav has been allocated four ministries, including health, urban development and rural works. Senior Janata Dal (United) leader Vijay Kumar Chaudhary will be the finance minister of the state.
Tejashwi Yadav’s brother Tej Pratap Yadav will handle the environment and climate change department. He held the portfolio, along with the health ministry after the 2015 elections, which the Rashtriya Janata Dal won in an alliance with the Janata Dal (United).
Apart from the Yadav brothers, Rashtriya Janata Dal MLAs in the Cabinet are Alok Mehta, Surendra Prasad Yadav, Ramanand Yadav, Kumar Sarvajeet, Lalit Yadav, Samir Kumar Mahaseth, Chandrashekhar, Jitendra Kumar Rai, Anita Devi, Sudhakar Singh, Israel Mansuri, Surendra Ram, Kartikeya Singh, Shahnawaz Alam and Shamim Ahmed.
Chaudhary aside, those included from the JD(U) are Mohammad Zama Khan, Jayant Raj, Sheela Kumari, Sunil Kumar, Sanjay Jha, Madan Sahni, Shravan Kumar, Ashok Choudhary, Leshi Singh, Vijay Kumar and Bijendra Yadav.
Congress legislators Afaque Alam and Murari Lal Gautam were also inducted into the Cabinet as ministers, while Santosh Suman was sworn in from Hindustani Awam Morcha.
The new Cabinet will hold a meeting on Tuesday, the chief minister told the reporters after the oath-taking ceremony.
The Cabinet expansion took place nearly a week after Kumar took oath as the chief minister for the eighth time at the Raj Bhavan in Patna on August 10. Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav was sworn in as his deputy.
A day prior to that, Kumar had resigned as the chief minister after snapping ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance. Hours later, he staked a claim to form a new government after being elected as the leader of the Grand Alliance of nine parties.
The Kumar-led Bihar government will face a floor test in the state Assembly on August 24.
Strain in BJP-JD(U) ties
The JD(U) is the third major ally to snap ties with the BJP in the last three years. Earlier, the Shiromani Akali Dal severed its ties over the three farm laws, and in 2019, the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra joined hands with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.
Relations between the BJP and the JD(U) had soured recently because of disagreements over a host of matters such as a proposed population control law, caste census, demand for special category status for Bihar and the Agnipath defence recruitment scheme.
In June, thousands of protestors burnt train coaches, damaged public property and ransacked offices in Bihar during an agitation against the Agnipath scheme, which provides for short-term recruitment into the armed forces. The JD(U) had urged the Centre to reconsider the scheme.
On August 7, the JD(U) said it will not be a part of the expansion of Narendra Modi’s Union Cabinet. Kumar had also skipped the NITI Aayog meet chaired by the prime minister on the same day.
This is the second time that Kumar has severed ties with the BJP.
In 2013, he left the NDA after Modi was announced as the coalition’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, in 2017, he left the Grand Alliance to rejoin the NDA.