Bihar cabinet expansion: BJP brings in new faces, JD(U) sticks to old loyalists

Seventeen new ministers were inducted in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s cabinet on Tuesday taking the total number to 31. BJP, which is the largest party among the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state, got nine berths, while Janata Dal (United) got eight.

With the Tuesday’s expansion the ministerial strength of Bihar government has reached 31, including the chief minister. More than half of the total ministers in Bihar cabinet are from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has 74 MLAs in 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has 44 members while 4 MLAs are each from Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) in the ruling NDA. Party wise ministerial strength in Bihar government is – 16 ministers from BJP, 13 from JD(U), and one each from VIP and HAM.

One notable take away from Nitish Kumar’s cabinet expansion is that the BJP has brought in new faces and tried to balance caste equations, while the JD(U) has sticked to the old guns. Out of the 13 ministers in the cabinet JD(U) has only three first-time ministers, while the majority of the ministers from the BJP quota are first timer.

The key new faces from the BJP inducted in the Bihar cabinet include BJP’s national spokesperson and former union cabinet minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain.

Hussain is perhaps the most prominent political personality in Nitish Kumar cabinet from the BJP quota. Hussain holds the record of being the youngest union cabinet minister. He was first elected to the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999 from Kishanganj in Bihar at a young age of 30. The same year he was inducted in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government as a union minister of state. Two years later on 1st September 2001 Hussain was promoted to the cabinet rank, creating a record of become the youngest union cabinet minister.

Hussain was elected to the Bihar Legislative Council last month. He was the first to be administered the oath of office by Governor Phagu Chauhan at a ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan.

The most notable omission from the new government is Sushil Kumar Modi, who served as deputy chief minister every time JD(U)-BJP goverment was in power in Bihar since 2005. Other veterans from the BJP who have failed to find a place in the new Bihar cabinet include Nandkishore Yadav and Prem Kumar.

On the other hand, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has sticked to the old guns. Sanjay Jha, who has been close to Nitish Kumar for over a decade, has been reinducted in the state cabinet and allocated water resources and Public Relations Department. Shrawan Kumar, a seven-time MLA from Nalanda, has also made the come back as a minister for rural development.

While in terms of the number of berth in the cabinet, BJP is far ahead of JD(U), in terms of portfolios Nitish Kumar’s party continues to dominate. The BJP now has 16 ministers in Bihar cabinet with 22 portfolios among them, while the JD(U) has 13 ministers with 21 portfolios. Important departments, like Home, Personnel, Education, Rural Development, Rural Works, Water Resources, remained with the JD(U).

Gyanendra Kumar Keshri

Gyanendra Kumar Keshri is consulting editor of BiharConnect. He has nearly 20 years of experience in journalism, having worked for diverse media streams in India and abroad.

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