Bihar cabinet expansion likely soon, assures CM Nitish Kumar

PATNA: Decks have been cleared for expansion of the recently formed cabinet in Bihar and the same would take place in near future, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said here on Monday.

He, however, debunked speculations in a section of the media during the course of the day that it was likely to take place on Tuesday.

“Not tomorrow. you do not worry we would duly inform people in advance. I cannot say whether it will take place after two days or ten days. But, it will be sooner rather than later”, Kumar told reporters who approached him with frenetic queries about cabinet expansion.

The state cabinet can have up to 36 members and at present it has only 13, besides the Chief Minister.

Kumar had been maintaining that the same did not take place for want of a “prastaav” (proposal) from the BJP which has the largest number of MLAs in the ruling NDA.

NDA sources say that there had been a tussle between Kumar and the BJP over the issue of representation of his JD(U) and the saffron party.

While the BJP is said to have been demanding a lions share, Kumar is said to have been keen on a formula in which the saffron party and the JD(U) had equal representation.

It has been the contention of the JD(U), which had been the senior coalition partner in the state until the assembly elections, that it has not lost its support base as evident from its vote share and that the steep decline in its tally was to be blamed on the rebellion from LJP headed by Chirag Paswan whom the BJP failed to rein in.

On Sunday evening, state BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal, accompanied by Deputy CMs Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi both from his party had called on Kumar at his official residence where the differences over the issue appear to have been ironed out.

The formula agreed upon by the two parties was, however, not known.

The NDA in Bihar has altogether four constituents BJP, JD(U), former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhis Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Bollywood set designer turned politician Mukesh Sahnis Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP).

At present, the BJP has seven members in the cabinet, including the two Deputy CMs while the JD(U) has only four, besides the Chief Minister.

Manjhis son has been accommodated from HAM while Sahni has been made a minister despite having lost his seat in assembly polls.

The BJP has given Sahni the legislative council seat vacated by former state minister Binod Narayan Jha, who has now become an MLA.

Sahni filed his nomination for the council seat during the day.

Speculations are rife in the political circles that BJP national spokesman Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, who has been fieleded by the party in the by-poll on the legislative council seat vacated by former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, could get a berth in the state cabinet.

When a question in this regard was posed to Hussain by the media persons, he refused to make any direct comment and merely said as a disciplined soldier of the BJP he has always been obeying party’s order.