A week after Nitish Kumar took over as Bihar Chief Minister, 31 new ministers were inducted into his cabinet, on Tuesday, with the RJD getting a lion's share, and care having been taken to represent all sections of the society, including the minorities.
Among the ministers who took oath, 16 were from RJD, 11 from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U), two from Congress, one from ex-CM Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and one Independent.
The ministers in the 'Mahagathbandhan' government include Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Tej Pratap Yadav and Alok Mehta.
Earlier today, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reached the Raj Bhavan in Patna for the swearing-in ceremony.
Ahead of the Cabinet expansion, JDU(U) MLA Leshi Singh on Tuesday confirmed that she will be getting a post in the new cabinet.
Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Bijendra Yadav (both JDU), Tej Pratap Yadav, Alok Mehta (both RJD) and Afaque Alam (Congress) took oath in the first batch of the Bihar cabinet expansion.
Shravan Kumar, Ashok Choudhary, Leshi Singh (all JDU), Surendra Prasad Yadav and Ramanand Yadav (both RJD) also took oath in the second batch of the expansion.
Sanjay Jha, Madan Sahni (both JDU), Kumar Sarvajeet, Lalit Yadav (both RJD) and Santosh Kumar Suman (HAM) took oath during the third batch of Bihar cabinet expansion.
Sheela Kumari, Sunil Kumar (both JDU), Samir Kumar Mahaseth, Chandrashekhar (both RJD) and Sumit Kumar Singh (Independent) also took oath in the following batch.
Mohd Zama Khan, Jayant Raj (both JDU), Jitendra Kumar Rai, Anita Devi and Sudhakar Singh (all RJD) take oath in fifth batch of Bihar cabinet expansion.
The Bihar cabinet can have up to 36 ministers, including the Chief Minister. Some ministerial berths will be kept vacant for future cabinet expansion, sources said.
Right after the cabinet expansion, Nitish Kumar said, "The portfolios will be allocated shortly. I will hold a meeting of the entire cabinet today once again."
Nitish Kumar had broken away from the BJP and formed a government with the RJD and other parties earlier this month. The Chief Minister and his deputy - RJD's Tejashwi Yadav - took oath on August 10.
The number of Muslims in the new cabinet is five, up from only one in the previous NDA government that fell last week after the chief minister severed ties with the BJP. The RJD has, predictably, given a significant number of seven berths to Yadavs.
It, however, also gave representation to the upper castes in keeping with the wider social outreach by deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav.
The BJP's central leadership will hold a meeting with the party's Bihar unit leaders here on Tuesday, days after the JD(U) parted ways with it and formed a new government in the state.
They are likely to deliberate upon the BJP's future course of action, and the strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, sources said, adding organisational changes may also come up for discussion. The meeting will be chaired by BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda and the general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh will also be present.
The 2020 Assembly polls in Bihar were a tight one with the National Democratic Alliance winning 125 seats, with BJP winning 74 of these, the Janata Dal (United) of Nitish Kumar 43, the Vikassheel Insaan Party 4 and Hindustan Awaam Party (Secular) 4. This put the NDA just above the requisite 122-majority mark needed to form the government.
The RJD and its allies, on the other hand, had won 110 seats. The RJD finished as the single-largest party with 75 seats, while the Congress won a mere 19 seats. Of the 29 seats the Left parties had contested, they won in 16, with the CPI (ML-Liberation) winning 12 of them. Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM had won five seats in the Seemanchal region of the state. Four of its MLAs have switched to the RJD.
(With inputs from agencies)