The two-member Bihar Cabinet comprising Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Tejashwi Prasad Yadav is set to be expanded on Tuesday, when close to 30 members will be inducted from different constituents of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance).
The swearing in will take place at 11.30 am inside the Raj Bhavan, highly placed sources said. Among the invitees could be RJD supremo Lalu Prasad who was expected to arrive here on Monday night, though party sources now claim he will be arriving on Tuesday by a morning flight.
The state cabinet can have up to 36 ministers, including the chief minister. The induction of ministers on Tuesday is expected to keep a few berths vacant for future expansion.
An in-principle agreement has been reached that the RJD, which is the largest party in the state assembly, will have a lion’s share of ministerial berths, followed by Kumar’s JD(U).
Congress state in-charge Bhakt Charan Das has said that the party is tipped to get three ministerial berths, two of which will be filled on Tuesday.
According to Congress sources who did not wish to be named, Afaque Alam and Murari Gautam have been handpicked as part of the party’s strategy to back a Muslim and a Dalit.
Earlier, the names of Shakil Ahmed Khan, an AICC secretary and one of the most vocal MLAs, besides Rajesh Ram, were doing the rounds.
From the RJD camp, there seems to be little doubt over the induction of Tej Pratap Yadav, the maverick elder son of Lalu Prasad. Along expected lines, the party is likely to allot a number of berths to those from the Yadav caste, who form its core base.
Others in contention include national general secretary Alok Mehta and young MLA Sudhakar Singh, whose father Jagadanand Singh is currently the state president and enjoys the respect of Tejashwi Yadav.
The JD(U) is likely to retain most of its ministers in the previous NDA government including Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Ashok Choudhary, Bijendra Yadav, Shravan Kumar and Leshi Singh.
It may drop a few who may have been deemed to be close to the BJP and former JD(U) president RCP Singh, accused of trying to split the party at the ex-ally’s behest.
In addition, Hindustani Awam Morcha’s Santosh Suman is also likely to return as a minister. The party, founded by his father and former CM Jitan Ram Manhi, has four MLAs and it had quit the NDA expressing solidarity with Nitish Kumar.
The lone Independent Sumit Kumar Singh, whose late father Narendra Singh was an old associate of the chief minister, had been made a minister in the previous government and he is also likely to be sworn in on Tuesday.