Amid speculation over Cabinet expansion, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said it would be done when the list of (BJP) candidates comes.
Earlier on Saturday, State BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal had said the Cabinet expansion would be done before the Assembly session, commencing from February 19.
“It will be done when the list of [BJP] candidates comes. It will be done soon,” Mr. Kumar told mediapersons in Patna. Mr. Kumar, earlier too, had said that whenever the BJP would hand over him the list, the expansion of the Cabinet would be done. “It has never been so late as I have been allocating portfolios on the same day,” Mr. Kumar had said.
The political grapevine is that the alliance partner BJP has been doing “long time mathematics and social engineering” to make the list. “It is in that process the BJP brought in senior party leader and former Union Minister Shahnawaz Hussain to become member of the State council. The delay in the Cabinet expansion is from the BJP side, as in the JD(U) all final decisions are taken by none other than Mr. Kumar,” said a senior NDA leader. Bihar BJP leaders have been meeting the party’s central leadership on the issue in Delhi as well.
However, State BJP leaders have been reiterating that there was no problem from their side. “The Cabinet expansion will be done before the Assembly session begins,” Mr. Jaiswal said on Saturday. The Budget session is scheduled to begin from February 19. A party leader, though, preferring anonymity, added, that “the BJP has already given the list to Nitish and now it is up to him to expand the Cabinet”. At present, the Cabinet has 14 Ministers, including the Chief Minister. There can be a maximum of 36 Ministers in the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kumar on Monday laid the foundation stone for redeveloping the 5,462-bed Patna Medical College and Hospital as the county’s largest hospital in next five years at a cost of ₹5,540 crore. The hospital will be equipped with a special helipad for emergency air ambulance along with 60 modular operation theatres. Health Minister and BJP leader Mangal Pandey, Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad were present.