Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday expanded his cabinet with the induction of eight new faces — all from his Janata Dal (United).
Members of allies, the BJP and LJP, were left out from the cabinet expansion.
Kumar, after the cabinet expansion, said the BJP was offered a berth in his cabinet, but the saffron party was not too keen.
Seconding Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP’s senior leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the party was offered a ministerial berth, but it opted out of it for now.
“Nitish Kumar has offered BJP to fill the vacant ministerial seat. The BJP decided to fill it in future,” the deputy chief minister tweeted.
The new ministers – Narendra Narayan Yadav, Shyam Rajak, Ashok Choudhary, Bima Bharti, Sanjay Jha, Ram Sewak Singh, Niraj Kumar and Lakshmeshwar Rai – were administered the oath of office and secrecy at a function at the Raj Bhavan here by Governor Lalji Tandon.
Kumar said the vacancies were majorly created by JD(U) ministers, who resigned from their posts for various reasons.
Tension seems to have been brewing between the alliance partners over allotment of berth in the Narendra Modi cabinet, although Kumar asserted that there was “no unease” between the partners.
The JD(U), he had said, decided against joining the Modi ministry as allies were not given “proportional representation” in the cabinet.
Three seats in the Nitish Kumar cabinet fell vacant following the election of JD(U) ministers to the Lok Sabha.
The three ministers who were elected to the Lower House of Parliament included Water Resources Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, Disaster Management Minister
Dinesh Chandra Yadav and LJP’s Bihar unit chief and Animal and Fisheries Resources Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras.
One post fell vacant last year after Manju Verma resigned as Social Welfare Minister in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home case.
Among those who attended Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony were Sushil Kumar Modi, Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary, RJD Bihar unit president Ram Chandra Purbey and several ministers of the Nitish KUmar government.
This is the second time in two years when Nitish Kumar expanded his cabinet.
On July 29, 2017, he has inducted 27 ministers from all three NDA constituents, the JD(U), the BJP and the LJP.