Bihar gets eight ministers in Modi govt 3.0 with eye on performance, caste equation

HAM(S) patron Jitan Ram Manjhi, JD(U) MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh, BJP MP from Begusarai Giriraj Singh, and LJP (RV) MP from Hajipur Chirag Paswan were sworn in as cabinet ministers.
JD(U) leader Lalan Singh (L) and HAM(S) Chief Jitan Ram Manjhi take oath as ministers at the swearing-in ceremony of new Union government, at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, Sunday, June 9, 2024.
JD(U) leader Lalan Singh (L) and HAM(S) Chief Jitan Ram Manjhi take oath as ministers at the swearing-in ceremony of new Union government, at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, Sunday, June 9, 2024.Photo | PTI

PATNA: Eight leaders from Bihar were sworn in as ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet 3.0 on Sunday evening, with a special focus on achieving the right caste balance in the union council of ministers from the state.

President Droupadi Murmu administered the oath of office and secrecy to Modi and his cabinet ministers at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan’s forecourt in New Delhi on Sunday.

Former Bihar Chief Minister and HAM(S) patron Jitan Ram Manjhi, JD(U) MP from Munger Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, BJP MP from Begusarai Giriraj Singh, and LJP (RV) MP from Hajipur Chirag Paswan were sworn in as cabinet ministers.

The remaining four MPs—Nityanand Rai (Ujiarpur), Raj Bhushan Choudhary Nishad, BJP MP from Muzaffarpur, and two Rajya Sabha members, Satish Chandra Dubey and Ram Nath Thakur—have been appointed union ministers of state.

Tale of the Bihar eight

Jitan Ram Manjhi

Patron of Hindustani Awam Morcha, Jitan Ram Manjhi, won the Lok Sabha election from the Gaya (SC) seat, defeating his nearest rival, Kumar Sarvajeet of Rashtriya Janata Dal. The 80-year-old Manjhi, hailing from Bihar’s most backward Musahar community, is a well-known Mahadalit figure in caste-ridden Bihar. He served as chief minister for about 10 months between 2014 and 2015 after Nitish Kumar resigned from the position, taking responsibility for the JD(U)’s poor performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Manjhi is an MLA from Imamganj in Gaya district. His induction as a Union Minister aims to keep NDA partners intact in Bihar, as HAM’s four MLAs played a crucial role in forming the NDA government when Nitish switched sides and partnered with BJP after dumping the RJD-led grand alliance earlier this year. His son, Santosh Kumar Suman, is a minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet.

JD(U) leader Lalan Singh (L) and HAM(S) Chief Jitan Ram Manjhi take oath as ministers at the swearing-in ceremony of new Union government, at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, Sunday, June 9, 2024.
Jitan Ram Manjhi's extraordinary rise to central minister at the age of 80

Chirag Paswan

Chief of Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), Chirag Paswan, is being inducted as a Union Minister for the first time. The 42-year-old has emerged as a prominent Dalit leader, particularly among Paswans, following his father Ram Vilas Paswan’s death in October 2020. He won from the Hajipur (SC) seat by defeating Shivchandra Ram of RJD. Chirag, who is the President of LJP (RV), is a young and promising Dalit leader in Bihar. His party performed well in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, winning all five seats it contested. Despite previously strained relations with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Chirag shared the stage with him during the elections. His relationship with his uncle, former Union Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras, remains contentious.

Raj Bhushan Prasad Choudhary Nishad

A doctor by profession, Raj Bhushan Choudhary Nishad comes from the Mallah (fishermen) community, classified under the EBC category. He joined BJP just before the Lok Sabha election, leaving Vikassheel Insaan Party, and was given a ticket. He defeated sitting BJP MP Ajay Nishad from Muzaffarpur, who contested as a Congress candidate after being denied a ticket. Winning with the highest vote margin, his induction in the cabinet is seen as an effort to woo the fishermen community ahead of the 2025 assembly elections and project him as their leader. His inclusion is a setback for VIP’s chief Mukesh Sahani, who claims the title 'Son of Mallah.'

Satish Chandra Dubey

Satish Chandra Dubey, 49, is a Rajya Sabha member and a prominent Brahmin face of the BJP in the Champaran region. He previously represented the Valmikinagar seat in the Lok Sabha from 2014-19. Denied a ticket in 2019 due to seat-sharing arrangements with JD(U), he was later sent to Rajya Sabha in 2022. Before becoming an MP, he served as MLA from Chanpatia and Narkatiaganj. His induction aims to attract Brahmin voters in the Champaran region and neighboring Uttar Pradesh, where the Brahmin population is significant.

Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh

Former JD(U) president Rajiv Ranjan Singh, 69, won the Lok Sabha election from Munger, defeating Kumari Anita of RJD. A trusted lieutenant of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Singh comes from the dominant Bhumihar caste. He has served as a state minister in Nitish’s cabinet and has a long political history, including being a founding member of the Samta Party. He stepped down as JD(U) president in December 2023 after differences with Nitish over his proximity to RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Known as a 'troubleshooter' for JD(U), Singh's induction aims to maintain stability within the party.

Ram Nath Thakur

Ram Nath Thakur, 74, a Rajya Sabha member, is the son of former Bihar Chief Minister and socialist icon Karpoori Thakur. Thakur, from the EBC category, has previously served as a member of the Bihar Legislative Council and as a minister under Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar. His induction aims to attract EBC voters, who make up nearly 36% of Bihar’s population. Thakur is a prominent EBC face in the party.

Giriraj Singh

BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh, 71, won the election from Begusarai for the second consecutive term, defeating CPI’s Abadhesh Kumar Roy. Singh, from the upper caste Bhumihar, is a notable Hindutva face of BJP in Bihar. He was elected as MP from Nawada in 2014 and later shifted to Begusarai. He has served in various ministerial roles, including rural development and panchayati raj, and animal husbandry and fisheries.

Nityanand Rai

Nityanand Rai, 58, a prominent Yadav face of BJP in Bihar, won from Ujiarpur, defeating Alok Kumar Mehta of RJD. He served as Union Minister of State for Home in Modi's second term. Starting his political career with ABVP, he was elected as MLA from Hajipur four times and is considered close to BJP leader Amit Shah. Rai's induction aims to counter RJD chief Lalu Prasad by projecting a Yadav leader within BJP in Bihar.

JD(U) leader Lalan Singh (L) and HAM(S) Chief Jitan Ram Manjhi take oath as ministers at the swearing-in ceremony of new Union government, at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, Sunday, June 9, 2024.
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