In taint-free cabinet Nitish has to welcome Lalu’s both sons

In taint-free cabinet Nitish has to welcome Lalu’s both sons
In taint-free cabinet Nitish has to welcome Lalu’s both sons

Tejaswai becomes Deputy CM


[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]P[/dropcap]olitics is a strange ball game, which makes even a winner looks like a loser. When Nitish Kumar took oath as Chief Minister for the fifth time on Friday, the composition of his cabinet reflected this bitter reality of Indian politics. The number two in his Cabinet is a young man who is almost 40 years younger to him, has no past record of administration, and was paratrooped into politics by his `illustrious’ father Lalu Prasad on the eve of the assembly elections…

Besides Nitish, 12 members each from RJD and Janata Dal (U) and four from Congress were administered oath as ministers by Governor Ram Nath Kovind at a gala function at Patna’s historic Gandhi maidan in the presence of stalwart of the Opposition parties including eight Chief Ministers.

Speculation was rife for days that Lalu’s younger son Tejashwi Yadav will be the Deputy Chief Minister. The fact that he took oath just after Nitish Kumar was a clear indication of things to come. That Nitish had to make such a compromise shows how difficult it will be for him to run the coalition government where the RJD is the bigger partner. The inclusion of Lalu’s elder son Tej Pratap also shows that Nitish will not have that sort of functional freedom in running the government with the RJD which he enjoyed with the BJP for more than eight years before they parted ways.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]B[/dropcap]ut Nitish has something to cheer about as well. Belying all apprehensions that the RJD’s quota of ministers will not inspire any confidence among those who are looking forward to a “crime and corruption” free government, Lalu Prasad nominated ministers who carry no baggage of controversy. Most of RJD ministers are soft and suave persons who do not conform to the impression media and people have formed about Lalu’s clan over the years.

The composition of the cabinet also shows that upper castes have been firmly placed on the sideline of Bihar politics. Just four members of the upper caste figure in the Nitish cabinet . This is the first time that so few upper caste ministers will be part of any government in Bihar. While Lalu has not made any upper caste leader as cabinet minister from the RJD quota, JD(U) and Congress have nominated two upper caste ministers each from their side.

Women may have voted in large number for Nitish, but he has accommodated just two members from the fairer sex in his cabinet. His emphasis has been on consolidating his grip over the Kuswaha, Dalit and Mahadalits and Extremely backward castes. The JD(U) has nominated two Kuswahas, one Dalit and one Mahadalit, one Dhanuk, and one Nishad minister. Along with Nitish Kumar there are two Kurmis in his cabinet in addition to two Yadavs and one Muslim.

On the other hand, Lalu has filled in his quota with Yadav and Muslims and given crumbs of power to Dalits, EBC and others.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he swearing in ceremony showcased the unity of anti-BJP opposition. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was a latecomer as his flight landed after the function had started. In addition, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and several Congress Chief Ministers were present.

The Modi government was represented by Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu. The General Secretary of CPI-M Sitaram Yechury, and senior CPI leader D Raja also attended the event, which was skipped by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Chief Minister son Akhilesh Yadav.But P MP Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, who is also the son-in-law of Lalu Prasad, was present. Another important player from UP, BSP chief Mayawati, was also not present.

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, DMK leaders TR Balu and MK Stalin and National Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh were also present.

The gathering of Opposition leaders outlined the contour of the national politics and attempts to revive an anti-BJP front to take on the Modi government inside and outside parliament.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]fter the rout of the opposition parties at the hands of the BJP in the Lok Sabha poll last year, there have been tentative attempts to put together an anti-BJP coalition. One such abortive attempt was a move to bring together constituents of the erstwhile Janata parivar under the leadership of Mulayam Singh. It failed miserably when Mulayam walked out of the Janata Parivar and put up his own candidates against the Grand Alliance.

For 18 months, the Opposition has remained demoralized even though it managed to force the Modi government to surrender on the controversial land acquisition bill. But more than the Opposition, the credit should go to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, civil society and farmer groups to force the Government’s hand on the bill. The Opposition has also stonewalled the attempt to the pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in parliament. But Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance’s massive victory in the Bihar poll has infused a new lease of life into the Opposition camp. Talks have already started to seal a similar Grand Alliance in Uttar Pradesh against the BJP. The gathering at Patna will send a clear message to the BJP to set its house in order and take steps to prevent the nascent anti-BJP grouping to become something more tangible and threatening.

List of JD(U) ministers: Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan, Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Shrawan Kumar, Jay Kumar Singh( all members of the outgoing cabinet) former MP Maheshwar Hazari, Krishna Nandan Prasad Verma, Santosh Nirala and Khurshid alias Firoz Ahmad. New members in the cabinet from JD(U)– Shailesh Kumar, Kumari Manju Varma, Madan Sahni and Kapildeo Kamat also took oath.

RJD ministers: Tejaswai Yadav, Tej Pratap, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Abdul Gafoor, Vijay Prakash, Chandrika Rai, Alok Kumar Mehta, Ram Vichar Rai, Sheo Chander Ram, Muneshwar Chaudhary, Chandrashekhjar and Anita Devi. Anita is the lone woman minister from RJD. She defeated senior BJP leader Rameshwar Chourasia in Nokha assembly segment.

Congress minisiters: State Congress chief Ashok Choudhary, Madan Mohan Jha, Abdul Jalil Mastan and Awdesh Kumar Singh.

Navin is a senior journalist with years of experience in covering India’s Capital city. His keen observations and ability to create the big picture from disparate pieces of information is invaluable.
Navin Upadhyay


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