PATNA: Putting an end to speculation, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expanded his cabinet by inducting 17 new ministers in what is being seen as a meticulous manner to keep caste equations balanced. Significantly, there is no Yadav or Bhumihar representation in the new set of ministers. However, the Rajputs have got the highest preference – four. They are: Lesi Singh, Neeraj Kumar Babloo, Sumit K Singh and Subhash Singh.
Out of the 17 new ministers, 11 are first-timers and young ministers out of the BJP and the JD-U quota such as Independent MLA from Jamui’s Chakai seat Sumit K Singh and Md. Zama Khan, former BSP MLA from Kaimur’s Chainpur and others. The 11 new inductees in the cabinet are Shahnawaz Hussain, Janak Ram (former BJP MP),
Mohammed Zama Khan (formerly in BSP now in JD-U), Alok Ranjan Jha (BJP), Jayant Raj (JD-U from Amarpur), Neeraj Kumar Bablu (BJP), Subhash Singh (BJP MLA, Gopalganj), four-time BJP MLA Nitin Naveen, Sumit Kumar Singh (Independent), Sunil Kumar (JD-U & former IPS officer) and Narayan Prasad( BJP).
The number of ministers has now gone up to 31. Apart from the first-time ministers, many experienced leaders such as Shravan Kumar have become ministers for a third time. Madan Sahni, Pramod Kumar, Lesi Singh and Sanjay K Jha are second-time ministers. Samrat Chaudhary is for the third minister now.
What is interesting in the cabinet expansion is that the JD-U and BJP have tried their best to strike a balance in the caste equations. So, the BJP brought in Hussain, the party’s influential minority face, through the Legislative Council and to induct him in the cabinet. The JD-U inducted former BSP leader Zama Khan, who had joined the JD-U recently.