Nitish Kumar to expand cabinet today with JDU members; none from BJP to get new berths: sources

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Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar who turned down BJP’s proposal of one berth in the Modi cabinet for the JD(U), is all set to expand his council of ministers today in Bihar, by inducting new ministers from the JDU at the slots vacated by ministers who have been elected to the Lok Sabha.

Though there could be a need of inducting 11 members in Bihar’s ministry, it is reported that four new ministers may take the oath of office on Sunday.

As per sources, BJP leaders won’t be getting any of the vacant berths in Nitish cabinet this time. As many as 8 ministers will be inducted in the Bihar cabinet from JDU, while none will be inducted from BJP quota, sources have said.

The expansion of cabinet will take place at 11 am on Sunday at Raj Bhawan.

It is to be noted that after three ministers from Bihar cabinet, were elected as MPs in the parliamentary elections, three posts are vacant in Nitish’s cabinet. The posts are likely to be filled up by Lallan Singh, Pashupati Paras and Dinesh Chandra Yadav.

One post has also been vacated after resignation of social welfare minister Manju Verma after she was embroiled in Muzaffarpur shelter house case.

JDU leaders including Shyam Rajak, Neeraj Singh, Ashok Chaudhary, Ram Sevak Kushwaha, Narendra Narayan Yadav, and Sanjay Jha are said to be among front runners for the ministerial berths.

Shyam Rajak used to be an RJD leader though he joined the JDU later and was even a member of Kumar’s ministry earlier. Similarly, Ashok Chaudhary, former Bihar unit Congress chief, was a minister in JDU-RJD-Congress coalition government in 2015. He too joined the JDU later.

Nitish is also likely to include his close aide Sanjay Jha in the Union Cabinet. Lakshmeshwar Rai and Bima Bharti will also be given berths this time.

Chief Minister Kumar met Governor Lalji Tandon on Saturday.

The JDU on Thursday decided to not be a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new Cabinet, saying it would not accept the BJP’s offer of only one ministerial berth.

“They (BJP) wanted only one person from JD(U) in the Cabinet. So, it would have been just symbolic participation. We informed them that we do not need it (Cabinet berth),” Kumar had said.

The JDU chief, who later attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, said: “It is not a big issue. We are fully in the NDA and are not upset at all. We are working together. There is no confusion.”

In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, JDU won 16 seats in Bihar, while the BJP bagged 17.

Despite being a part of the NDA, the party was also not part of the last Central government.

The BJP, however, is sharing power in Bihar with its leader Sushil Kumar Modi as the state’s Deputy Chief Minister.

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