Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after the expansion of his cabinet has made public that there will be 5 Muslim ministers in his cabinet of 31 Ministers that took oath on August 16, 2022.
The JD-U broke away from the BJP and was successful to retain power in the newly formed government with the RJD and other allies. The JDU gave only one ministerial berth to its member from the minority community from its quota. Jama Khan was made Minister of Minority Affairs.
In Contrast, the RJD gave three Ministerial berths to the minority community from its quota. Shamim Ahmed made sugarcane minister, Shahnawaz Alam got disaster management, and Mohammad Israil Mansoori got information technology.
Congress, the alliance partner of the JDU-RJD combined government has given only one ministerial berth to a member of the minority community. Afaq Alam has become the animal husbandry and fisheries minister of Bihar.
If we compare 2022 with 2020 when the JDU aligned with the BJP to form the government in Bihar, there was not a single Muslim Minister in Nitish Kumar's cabinet. Even the Minority Affairs Ministry was held by Ashok Chaudhary, a close confide of the Bihar CM. This was worse than in Uttar Pradesh where the lone BJP Muslim MLA was made Minister of Minority Affairs.
In the cabinet expansion, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) got 16 ministerial berths. The Janata Dal-United (JDU) got 11, the Congress got 2 ministerial berths. Jitin Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha and an Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh also found a place in the new cabinet.
It is learned from the sources that 5 ministerial berths are kept reserved for future expansion of the Bihar cabinet that can have up to 36 ministers, including the Chief Minister.
The Grand Alliance in Bihar has a strength of 163. Now it has climbed to 164 after Sumit Kumar Singh an Independent MLA extended his support to the JDU-RJD alliance and got a ministerial berth in the new government. The RJD- JDU government in Bihar is likely to prove a majority in the Assembly on August 24.
Earlier Chief Minister Nitish Kumar pulled the rug below the BJP’s feet when the saffron party was set to launch a surgical strike code-named operation lotus. Buoyed by the success of its operation in Maharashtra last month with his man Friday Eknath Shinde the BJP propped up RCP Singh the former Union minister who was to plot a coup by taking JDU MLAs to some safe haven in the BJP-ruled state.
However, before he could make any moves, the Chanakya of Magadha got the wind of the ‘Gujarati trap.’ He first exposed RCP Singh's ill-gotten wealth and sought his explanation. This made BJP’s ‘Mohra’ resign from the primary membership of JD(U). This happened on August 7.
Even before the BJP could launch a strike on Nitish Kumar with the help of RCP Singh, the Vikas Prush of Bihar parted his ways with the BJP. He hems a new alliance with the RJD and other political parties and took oath on August 10 with RJD's Tejashwi Yadav as his deputy. This is how Nitish Kumar becomes the Chief Minister of Bihar for the seventh time.
The BJP got the taste of its own medicine in Bihar. Now the BJP top brass is holding meetings with the party's leaders in Bihar. The saffron party is to deliberate upon the reasons for the failure of operation lotus in Bihar and the future course of action in the changed situation there.
[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist. He can be contacted at email@example.com]
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