Bihar CM Nitish Kumar expands Cabinet; 12 BJP and nine JD(U) Ministers sworn in

The Cabinet expansion comes 46 days after the new NDA government was formed in the State on January 28, 2024

March 15, 2024 09:19 pm | Updated 09:32 pm IST - Patna:

(Combo Picture) BJP’s Renu Devi, Mangal Pandey, Niraj Kumar Singh, Nitish Mishra and JD(U)‘s Ashok Choudhary, Leshi Singh, Madan Sahni take oath as Ministers in the Bihar Cabinet, in Patna on March 15, 2024

(Combo Picture) BJP’s Renu Devi, Mangal Pandey, Niraj Kumar Singh, Nitish Mishra and JD(U)‘s Ashok Choudhary, Leshi Singh, Madan Sahni take oath as Ministers in the Bihar Cabinet, in Patna on March 15, 2024 | Photo Credit: ANI

A day before the Lok Sabha election date is to be announced, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on March 15 expanded his Cabinet, inducting nine Ministers from his party JD(U) and 12 from the ruling ally BJP. Earlier, along with Mr. Kumar and two Deputy Chief Ministers from the BJP quota, six other Ministers were in the Cabinet, which can have a maximum of 36 Ministers in the 243-member Assembly.

The Cabinet expansion comes 46 days after the new NDA government was formed in the State on January 28, 2024 after Mr. Kumar severed ties with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and rejoined hands with the BJP. It was Mr. Kumar’s fifth political volte-face in a decade to remain in power. All new Ministers vouched after the oath-taking ceremony that the NDA would win all 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar in the coming general elections. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the NDA had won 39 out of 40 seats in the State. The Congress had won the lone Kishanganj seat.

New faces in BJP

In the Cabinet expansion, almost all JD(U) leaders who were earlier Ministers in the mahagathbandhan government have been repeated, while the BJP has brought in some new faces like Kedar Gupta (Kurhani, Muzaffarpur), Surendra Mehta (Bachhwara, Begusarai), and Santosh Kumar Singh (Kaimur). Both the parties have given preference to the legislators coming from the Extremely Backward Class (EBC) section of the society. The recent caste survey has revealed that the EBC population is over 36% in Bihar.

Some women party legislators like Renu Devi (BJP), Lesi Singh (JD-U), Sheela Kumari Mandal too have been repeated in the Cabinet expansion. In the previous NDA government, Ms. Devi was the Deputy Chief Minister along with the party’s Tarkishore Prasad. Mr. Prasad did not get place in the new Cabinet. However, party sources said, he might contest the coming Lok Sabha poll.

The BJP leaders and legislators chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘abki baar 400 ke par’ (this time to cross 400 seats) whenever a BJP Minister was taking oath, while the JD (U) leaders and legislators shouted Nitish Kumar zindabad.

Before the oath-taking ceremony, the Cabinet meeting was held, which passed 108 agendas.

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