New Delhi, August 16
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expanded his Cabinet today, allocating the biggest chunk of ministerial berths to Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal--the largest party in the current Assembly as also the 'mahagathbandhan'.
Aa many as 31 ministers, including Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav’s maverick brother Tej Pratap Yadav, were sworn in.
While the RJD got 16 ministerial berths, Nitish Kumar kept 11 for his party, the Janata Dal (United), which broke off with the BJP last week.
The JD-U has 43 legislators in the 243-member Assembly.
The Congress, also a partner in the 'mahagathbandhan', was given two berths though earlier its leaders claimed four berths for the party.
One from Jitin Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha and the lone Independent MLA, Sumit Kumar Singh, were among those who took the oath. Congress legislators are Asfaque Alam and Murari Lal Gautam while HAM is represented by Santosh Suman.
Nitish Kumar retained most of the ministers from his party, including Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Bijendra Yadav, Shravan Kumar, Ashok Choudhary, Leshi Singh, Sanjay Jha, Madan Sahni, Sheela Kumari, Mohd Zama Khan, Jayant Raj and Sunil Kumar.
From RJD, apart from Tej Pratap, Alok Mehta, Surendra Prasad Yadav, Ramanand Yadav, Kumar Sarvajeet, Lalit Yadav, Samir Kumar Mahaseth, Chandrashekhar, Jitendra Kumar Rai, Anita Devi and Sudhakar Singh, Israel Mansuri, Surendra Ram, Kartikeya Singh, Shahnawaz Alam, Shamim Ahmed took the oath.
The state cabinet can have up to 36 ministers, including the CM. Some seats have been left for future expansion.
The Bihar Grand Alliance combined strength of 163 increased to 164 after Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh extended support.
The new government is likely to prove majority in the Bihar assembly on August 24.
Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar retained the all-important home department, giving him direct control over the state police, as portfolios were on Tuesday allocated in the new cabinet. Kumar has also kept with himself general administration, cabinet secretariat, election and “any other departments not assigned to others”, said an official communication.
Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav has got key portfolios like health, road construction, urban housing and development and rural works.
Yadav's elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav has been given environment, forestry and climate change.
Besides the CM and the deputy CM, only Vijay Kumar Chaudhary (finance, commercial tax and parliamentary affairs) and Bijendra Yadav (power and planning and development) have got more than one portfolios.
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