Despite poor poll show, Nitish reasserts position; keeps key portfolios

On Monday, 14 ministers took oath, seven from the BJP, five from the JD(U), and one each from two smaller allies – the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP)

In the Cabinet, the BJP will have a maximum of 21 berths and the JD(U), 14.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar seems to hold sway over the power structure and the new Cabinet alike despite his party the Janata Dal (United) winning only 43 seats as compared to its ally the BJP’s 74 in the NDA alliance. On Tuesday (November 17), portfolios were allocated and Nitish retained key departments like Home which he had held in the previous government too. Also, his party has kept all the important departments as it was the case in the previous term.

Other portfolios with the Chief Minister are General Administration, Cabinet Secretariat, Vigilance and Election besides ‘any other department not allocated among other members of the council of ministers,’ according to a notification issued by Raj Bhavan.

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In the Cabinet, the BJP will have a maximum of 21 berths and the JD(U), 14. On Monday, 14 ministers took oath, seven from the BJP, five from the JD(U), and one each from two smaller allies – the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP).

Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad of the BJP was given finance, commercial tax, environment, forestry and climate change and information technology, all of which were previously held by his predecessor Sushil Kumar Modi. In addition, Prasad will be holding disaster management and urban development portfolios.

Renu Devi, another Deputy Chief Minister, also form the BJP, will be handling Panchayati Raj, Other Backward Classes, Extremely Backward Classes and Industries.

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Mangal Pandey, a senior BJP leader who was the Health Minister in the previous government, has retained the key portfolio. Besides, he was given the charge of Art, Culture and Youth Affairs and Road Construction departments.

The previous Road Construction Department Minister, Nand Kishore Yadav, another BJP veteran who was not a made a minister this time, is expected to be made the Speaker during the assembly session next week.

Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, a JD(U) leader who was the Speaker in the previous assembly, has been given Parliamentary Affairs, Rural Works, Rural Development, Water Resources and Information and Public Relations Department.

Ashok Choudhary, the JD(U)s state working president, has retained building construction besides getting science and technology, social welfare and minorities affairs.

Bijendra Prasad Yadav, a former state unit chief of the JD(U), has retained Power, Prohibition and Excise besides getting Planning and Development, and Food and Consumer Protection.

Also read: Profile: Nitish spurned govt job for politics; deputies rose through the ranks

Mewa Lal Chaudhary, a multiple-term JD(U) MLA who has been inducted into the ministry for the first time, has got Education, while Sheela Kumar, who has been sworn in upon her electoral debut, has been given Transport.

Other BJP ministers are Amarendra Pratap Singh (Agriculture, Cooperatives and Sugarcane Industry), Rampreet Paswan (Public Health Engineering), Jibesh Kumar (Labour, Tourism and Mines) and Ram Surat Kumar Rai (Revenue, Land Reforms and Law).

Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) founding-president Mukesh Sahni has been given Animal Husbandry and Fisheries.

Santosh Kumar Suman, whose father Jitan Ram Manjhi, a former chief minister who heads the Hindustani Awam Morcha, has been given Minor Water Resources and Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Welfare.

By not conceding any key department to the BJP, Nitish seems to be ruling the roost, at least, for now.

(With inputs from PTI)

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