Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar is likely to expand his cabinet in December, as the assembly’s winter session concluded in November after the formation of the new state government. During this time, opposition parties, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and Congress launched political barbs against the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
There is widespread speculation across the political spectrum, especially with the RJD opposition claiming that not a single Muslim would have a cabinet seat in the Nitish government.
Not a single Muslim candidate from the ruling NDA has made it to the Bihar assembly, so it is certain that if the Bihar CM wants to have a Muslim face in the cabinet, it is likely to be a member of the Legislative Council.
During the recent elections in Bihar, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not present a single Muslim candidate while the JD-U presented 11.
In accordance with constitutional provisions, a total of 36 ministers can be appointed in the state cabinet, which currently has 13 ministers, including the Chief Minister. There are only four JD-U ministers besides Nitish Kumar. Twenty-two more ministers remain to be named.
Mevalal Chaudhary was also inducted as a cabinet minister in the government led by Nitish Kumar, but later resigned for alleged involvement in corruption. At present, all cabinet ministers have been assigned five departments each. Because of this, Nitish Kumar will soon be able to expand his cabinet regarding which he held a meeting with high-ranking JD-U leaders on November 29.
Sources say Nitish’s cabinet is likely to expand soon. If the sources are to be believed, an NDA meeting would soon take place where Nitish would discuss the possible names of the MLAs to join the cabinet as ministers.
In this cabinet expansion, at least 10 new faces of the BJP could have an opportunity that may include MLAs who are young and belong to Other Backward Classes (OBC) and the Dalit community.
The JD-U could also provide an opportunity for new faces in the party in expanding the cabinet and may also include a Muslim minister.
After the results of the Bihar elections, the JD-U is playing the role of “little brother” in the NDA government, having won fewer seats in the assembly than the BJP. The JD-U has already started planning its future course of political action.
A JD-U leader believes that, as expected, the party did not win the support of Muslim voters in Bihar, whose weight the party had to bear in the last elections.
Nitish Kumar could try to send a message to Muslim voters by giving a ministerial seat to a Muslim from the party.