The Big Bang Bihar Swearing-in of Nitish Kumar and Co
As Nitish Kumar takes the oath as Bihar CM, we look at the guest list, expected cabinet ministers and more.
Nitish Kumar has won the Bihar assembly election, thanks in no small part to his alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress party. He will be sworn-in as Chief Minister on Friday at 2 pm in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.
While he didn’t do badly on his own in the election, his foe-turned-friend Lalu’s party reclaimed lost ground and emerged as the single largest party giving him the necessary boost. This is perhaps why there is chatter that Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav might be Nitish’s choice for the post of Deputy Chief Minister. But more on that later.
On November 8, the counting day, as results came hugely in favour of the Grand Alliance or the maha gathbandhan, while Nitish Kumar thanked the people of Bihar Lalu announced that this victory was just the beginning of a national campaign against the NDA. The swearing-in ceremony on Friday is expected to reflect that mood.
Apart from Chief Ministers from several Congress-ruled states, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will be seen at the ceremony. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited but instead, union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Rajiv Pratap Rudy will represent the BJP at the swearing-in.
Guest List or Show of Strength of non-NDA Parties?
The VVIP guest list of Friday’s ceremony has, by strategy or accident, quite a few state leaders who have fought fierce electoral battles against the BJP: Delhi and West Bengal, for instance (of course, ultimately they bagged a comfortable victory).
Political observers say the guests of Friday’s ceremony might find themselves a part of the first of many discussions towards the forming of such a political body.
The non-Congress Chief Ministers invited to the ceremony are:
Mamata Banerjee – West Bengal – Trinamool Congress (TMC)
Arvind Kejriwal – New Delhi – Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
Pavan Kumar Chamling – Sikkim – Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)
Other prominent leaders who will be seen at Gandhi Maidan are,
Of course, not all non-BJP parties will come together because of their own differences, but speculation is that some parties might be favourable to the idea. No one from the Samajwadi Party is reportedly attending the ceremony.
What is Congress’ Role?
Apart from party Vice President Rahul Gandhi several Congress Chief Ministers also made it to the guest list.
Virbhadra Singh – Himachal Pradesh
Siddaramaiah – Karnataka
Tarun Gogoi – Assam
Ibobi Singh – Manipur
Nabam Tuki – Arunachal Pradesh
Other prominent Congress leaders like the party’s leaders in Parliament, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and former Delhi CM Sheila Dixit will also be seen at Friday’s event. Haryana’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Chhatisgarh Congress’ Ajit Jogi will also be present.
Evidently, the one party that stands to gain most at the national level, from such a front determined to defeat Narendra Modi is the Congress party. In an attempt to strengthen its vote base, the Congress formed an alliance with Nitish and Lalu despite Rahul Gandhi’s discomfort with the latter. The party won 27 out of the 40 seats it contested, which is a huge arrow up from their score in 2010, 4 seats.
Deputy CM and Nitish’s New Cabinet
The names and final confirmations about who will get what will come at 2 pm straight from Gandhi Maidan. But reports suggest the picture might be something like this.
Over 30 ministers will be sworn-in out of which 16 will be from Lalu’s RJD and 15 from JD(U). Five ministers are expected to be from the Congress. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is likely to keep the Home Ministry with him.
Apart from Lalu’s both sons Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav, others from RJD who might get ministerial berths are,
- Abdul Bari Siddiqui
- Abdul Gafoor
- Ram Chandra Purvey
- Alok Mehta
- Bhola Yadav
- Surendra Yadav
- Chandrika Rai
- Vijay Prakash
- Mundrika Yadav
- Ramanand Yadav
- Lalit Yadav
- Bhai Virendra
- Samta Devi
- Maheshwar Prasad Yadav
From Nitish’s JD (U) the leaders who are expected to take oath as ministers are,
- Vijay Kumar Chaudhury
- Vijendra Prasad Yadav
- Narendra Yadav
- Lallan Singh
- Lesi Singh
- Shrawan Kumar
- Ranveer Nandan
- Vijay Mishra
- Jai Kumar Singh
- Mewalal Chaudhary
Shyam Rajak, once a close ally of Lalu, who joined JD(U) in 2005, won this year from Fulwari. Rajak has refused to attend the ceremony, allegedly for denying a ministerial post. The five leaders that the Congress hopes to make ministers in Nitish’s cabinet are,
- Sadanand Singh
- Ashok Chaudhary
- Vijay Shankar Dubey
- Amita Bhushan
- Abdul Mastan and
- Ashok Kumar
Lalu’s RJD is reportedly keen on getting the Finance and Agriculture Ministry apart from the other key portfolios and the Speaker’s post is likely to remain with Nitish’s JD(U).
Whether a national front to defeat the BJP-led NDA might be formed after today’s supposed discussions is something one needs to wait and watch for. For now, there is only a tea session planned at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s residence.
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