The Bihar CM is vetoing three names forwarded by BJP for a place in the state Cabinet.

 

New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is vetoing three names that have been forwarded by BJP for a place in the state Cabinet, the expansion of which has been hanging in the air for months now. The unhappiness of Nitish Kumar over these three names has led to a delay in the Cabinet expansion.

These three names are former Union minister and senior Dalit leader Sanjay Paswan, who is presently an MLC (Member of Legislative Council), former minister and Kushwaha leader Samrat Chaudhary, who is also an MLC and newly appointed MLC and former union minister Shahnawaz Hussain.

The BJP is also demanding the crucial Home and Education portfolio. It is pertinent to mention that the Home department, since 2005, has been with Nitish Kumar. A vocal Paswan, for a long time now, has been attacking the state administration for the deteriorating law and order in the state, which is being seen by supporters of Nitish Kumar as a personal attack on him by Paswan.

Hussain and Chuadhary, according to BJP party sources, would dent Nitish Kumar’s Muslim and Kushwaha vote banks in the long run, which was the reason why the JDU national president was reluctant to give them a bigger platform. Hussain is also paying the price for speaking out aggressively against Nitish Kumar when the BJP and JDU had fallen out in June 2013 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was made the BJP campaign committee chairman.

In the House of 243, the Bihar Cabinet can have 36 ministers. Currently, it has 15 ministers, including the CM who had taken oath on 16 November last year.

Nitish Kumar, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated that the expansion was not taking place as BJP was not being able to finalize the names from its quota. A Union minister, who spoke to The Sunday Guardian on Friday night, too, confirmed that BJP was facing difficulty in finalizing the names as some of the names that the BJP had forwarded are not to “Nitish’s liking”.

According to Patna-based political observers, the present BJP MLAs, who were a part of the Nitish Kumar Cabinet, were light-weight” and hence the BJP wanted experienced individuals like Paswan and Hussain to join the Cabinet.

“One of the deputy CMs (there are two deputy CMs in the state both from BJP) calls the Principal Secretary as “Bhaiya”. The other ministers refer to their respective PS as “sir’. This is because the MLAs who have become ministers do not have the experience and the mettle to handle senior bureaucrats. People like Sushil Modi, Nand Kishor Yadav and Ashiwini Choubey had years of experience on how to handle the bureaucrats, the new lot are facing difficulty in ensuring their orders are executed by the  bureaucrats”, a senior Patna based political observer said.

The BJP had earlier demanded a quota of 21 ministries, now it has come down to 18. The BJP presently has 7 ministers, the JDU 6 including Nitish while the two allies, HAM and VIP have got one ministry each. BJP had won 74 seats, while the JDU had emerged victorious in 43 seats in the October-November 2020 polls.