Nitish Kumar to expand Bihar cabinet on February 9

After much delay and speculation, the Nitish Kumar cabinet will be expanded on Tuesday afternoon. Earlier on Monday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the expansion would take place when the BJP’s list was given to him.

Late on Tuesday night the CM’s secretariat confirmed that the new ministers will take oath of office at 12:30 p.m. at Raj Bhawan.

Party sources told The Hindu that there will be nine ministers from BJP quota while, eight will be from alliance partner JD(U). Earlier on November 16, the Nitish Kumar cabinet of 14 ministers, including the Chief Minister, had taken oath. With an Assembly of 243 members, there can be a maximum 36 ministers in the cabinet.

Names of young BJP leaders like Sanjiv Chaurasia, Nitin Navin, Neeraj Kumar Babloo, Shahnawaz Hussain, Subhas Singh, Samrat Chaudhury have been floated as new ministers. Similarly, names of JD(U) MLAs Shrawan Kumar, Sanjay Jha, Jayant Kumar, Lesi Singh, Sumit Kumar and Jama Khan who recently had joined the party after winning on Bahujan Samaj Party ticket from Kaimur are doing rounds.

Both the ruling alliance parties are said to be for giving opportunities to young faces.

State BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal on Saturday had said the cabinet expansion would take place before the Assembly session scheduled to commence from February 19.

Mr Kumar on Monday said, “it (cabinet expansion) will done when list of (BJP) candidates come. It will be done soon”. Mr Kumar, earlier too, had said that “it has never been so late as I’ve been allocating portfolios of ministry on the same day”.

According to sources the BJP has been doing a lot of “long-term mathematics and social engineering” in finalising its list of ministers. “It is in that process BJP brought in senior party leader and former union minister Shahnawaz Hussain. Bihar BJP leaders have also been meeting party’s central leadership on the issue in Delhi as well.

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