Bihar Cabinet decoded: RJD’s ‘MY-plus’ push, JD(U) sticks to tried-and-tested 11

Bihar cabinet: 31 ministers sworn in; Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) retains home, gets finance; health & education with RJD.

The swearing-in of 31 ministers in Bihar on Tuesday reflects the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) attempt at implementing its “MY (Muslim-Yadav)-plus” strategy while the Janata Dal (United) has stuck to its reliable OBC-EBC-Dalit-Upper caste combination.

Of the 31 ministers in the new Nitish Kumar-led Council of Ministers, 16 are from the RJD, 11 are from the JD(U) — all from the previous administration retained — two belong to the Congress, one is from the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and one is an Independent MLA. The Bihar Cabinet can have a maximum of 36 ministers, including the chief minister and the deputy CM, but now has 33.

While, as expected, the chief minister retained the home ministry, the JD(U) also took control of the finance ministry. By entrusting Vijay Kumar Choudhary with the key portfolio, Nitish Kumar has marked him out as the most important leader in the party after him at the moment. Bijendra Prasad Yadav, the Yadav face in Nitish’s camp, has to make do with the Energy portfolio that he already held.

The four portfolios with Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav — Health, Road Construction, Urban Development and Housing, and Rural Works — are crucial departments and show his high stature in the current administration. His elder brother Tej Pratap, the health minister in the previous administration, has been given charge of the department of environment, forest and climate change. Also, for the first time, the JD(U) has parted with the Education portfolio that has gone to the RJD’s Chandra Shekhar.

RJD’s social combination

The RJD has included six ministers from the Yadav community. Apart from Tej Pratap Yadav and Madhepura MLA Chandra Shekhar, they are Belaganj MLA Surendra Prasad Yadav; Fatuha MLA Ramanand Yadav; Darbhanga Rural legislator Lalit Yadav; and Marhaura MLA Jitendra Rai. These six ministers cater to the regions of Samastipur, Gaya, Patna, Madhepura, Darbhanga, and Saran. The party has also given three berths to Muslim leaders. The three are Shahnawaz Alam, the son of former MP and Seemanchal’s Muslim face Mohammed Taslimuddin; Israil Mansuri, a Pasmanda Muslim from Muzaffarpur; and Shamim Ahmad from the Champaran belt. Anita Devi, who belongs to an Extremely Backward Class (EBC) community is the only woman in the ministerial council. She was also a minister in the previous “Mahagathbandan (Grand Alliance)” government.

The Indian Express

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